Can Armenia become a gateway between Europe and Asia and connect the Persian Gulf with the Black Sea, as shown on the map?
Armenia’s transit potential has been discussed since independence. This is due to the geographical location of the country. Armenia is one of the shortest ways to connect Iran to the Black Sea. Despite this, the potential to become a transit country has not been realized within three decades. Now there is another opportunity on the horizon.
The agreement on the establishment of an international transport corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black has been under discussion for years, and all the details must be completed in the near future.
“At this stage, the so-called draft of the agreement is ready,” said Armen Simonyan, Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure.
The Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure notes that the participating countries are almost completing the final version of the agreement. It is planned to build a transport corridor, which will stretch across the Persian Gulf, reach the Black Sea through Iran, Armenia and Georgia, where cargo will be transported by ship to Bulgaria and Greece. Sofia has officially joined the agreement, announcing that it will use the ports of Varna and Burgas.
However, this is not the end of the project.
In 2015, Iran and India signed an agreement to develop the Iranian port of Chabakhar. India has pledged to invest $ 200 million in this business. Thus, the agreement was indirectly joined by India, for which the main option for access to Europe by water is now the Suez Canal.
This agreement is unprecedented for Armenia. Our country has never been involved in such an international program.
“This route assumes a system of multimodal transportation. By sea, rail, highway, and consequently, in this context, Armenia’s role is extremely important, as the Iranians are trying to find an alternative to having a road to the north,” Iranian expert Vardan Voskanyan says.
Azerbaijan is also formally involved in this program initiated by Iran; however that country has not participated in the recent meetings and discussions. As for Tehran, it has intensified its efforts to build this road after the second Artsakh war, amid talks on lifting sanctions. The Islamic Republic seeks to diversify its communication routes to Europe, to have access to both Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia.
“We have a sea transport that will go to Varna port. In our case, it is about road transport. Whether this project will be implemented or not depends on several circumstances. The economy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is currently in a difficult situation due to sanctions. If they are lifted, the accounts of Tehran will be de-frozen, it will be possible to direct significant funds to the implementation of the project. Armenia’s work here is great and difficult at the same time. The road will pass through the North-South highway, which our country has been building since 2012,” Armen Simonyan says.
“There are projects that, in addition to the economic component, also have a security significance for us. One of them is the North-South, the same Iran-Armenia railway, these are projects of national significance, which form the core of Armenia’s security system,” says orientalist Armen Petrosyan, expert on regional issues.
If Armenia manages to complete the North-South project, our country may become a transit route for the Middle East - the Persian Gulf countries, to the Black Sea. In that case, much more cargo transportation will be carried out.