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Diana Dikhanbayeva. The most important results of the working visit of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the Islamic Republic of Iran

On November 1st 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran on a working visit, where he met with Iranian President H.Rouhani [1]. Later, V.Putin and H.Rouhani were joined by the President of Azerbaijan I.Aliyev [2]. Parties discussed cooperation in trade, transport and energy, problems of combating terrorism, as well as issues related to the legal status of the Caspian Sea in the trilateral format [3]. Within the framework of the visit, V.Putin also met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran [4].
 

Actual international and regional problems

Syrian question was actively discussed during the meeting of the Russian President with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A. Khamenei noted that Moscow’s decisions and actions towards Syria contributed to the enhancement of Russia’s regional and international reputation, and also stressed the need to combat terrorism [5]. For his part, V.Putin called the cooperation and unanimity of Tehran and Moscow completely necessary for the process of political settlement of the Syrian issue [6].

At the same time, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran put forward the idea that cooperation between Tehran and Moscow will help to isolate the US: “By ignoring the negative propaganda of the enemies, that seek to weaken relations between countries, we can nullify US sanctions, using methods such as eliminating the dollar and replacing it with national currencies in transactions between two or more parties; thus, isolate the Americans. That’s why sensible discussions and cooperation on big movements, which require determination and hard work, is possible with Russia as a powerful state” [7].

The situation in Syria was also one of the issues of the meeting with the Presidents of the IRI, Russian Federation and Azerbaijan. Commenting on the results of the talks, V.Putin said: “We discussed in detail security in the region, issues linked with Iran’s nuclear programme, and, of course, the situation in Syria. I would like to note that our work with Iran is very productive. We manage to coordinate our positions on Syria-related problems. Owing to our joint efforts and the efforts of Turkey the fight against terrorism in Syria is proceeding very well” [8].

In turn, H.Rouhani said: “It is highly satisfying that apart from developing our bilateral relations, our countries play an important role in promoting peace and stability in the region. By developing our relations we were able to defeat one of the most dangerous terrorist groups. Trilateral cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey is indicative of efforts to restore peace and stability in Syria. The Iranian government is committed to further strengthening relations with Russia, our important neighbour and friend, and advancing cooperation on peace and security matters”[9].

During the talks, parties identified the spheres of cooperation in the Caspian Sea. Accordint to the joint statement of the three Presidents, Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan plan to cooperate in the field of multimodal transport, maritime tourism and conservation of the Caspian’s marine bioresources: “Considering the Caspian Sea as a sea of ​​peace, friendship, security and cooperation, the parties note the need to strengthen relations in such areas, such as cooperation between port administrations, maritime shipping, multimodal transport, maritime tourism, conservation of aquatic biological resources, environmental protection, energy, trade, the economy”[10].

In addition, Moscow, Tehran and Baku intend to develop cooperation in scientific research of the Caspian Sea, hydrography and meteorology. The parties also intend to jointly support security and military cooperation, prevent emergencies in the Caspian region [11].

Following the talks Vladimir Putin said: “I hope we will soon finalize all the parameters of our agreements on the Caspian issues and status, which should be signed in the near future” [12].

 

Prospects for trade and economic cooperation

Trade and economic cooperation has become one of the issues of the tripartite talks. The parties noted the importance of joint efforts to further intensify trade and economic relations and stressed on the need to create favorable conditions for the development of mutual investment. At the same time, the parties stressed the importance of strengthening the ties between representatives of commercial structures and creating the necessary conditions for the activity of the chambers of commerce and industry and promoting the interests of the business community [13].
The joint statement signed by the heads of the three states says: “The parties confirm the importance of cooperation in the field of road, rail and air transport with a view to modernizing the transport infrastructure and developing the international transport corridor “North-South” – a multimodal route for the transport of passengers and goods with a total length of 7.2 thousand km, which will connect India with Russia and Europe via Iran and Azerbaijan” [14]. In this regard, the parties emphasized the need for the rapid implementation of the project to build the railway line of Rasht-Astara [15].

Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan intend to deepen cooperation on international energy platforms and expand cooperation in the oil and gas sector. The joint statement says: “The parties note the key role of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the stable operation of regional and global energy markets, support the expansion of cooperation in the oil and gas and petrochemical sectors, including exploration and development of oil and gas fields, transportation and swap supplies of crude oil and petroleum products, as well as deepening cooperation on international energy platforms “[16].

V.Putin noted: “It is well known that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are large hydrocarbon producers, but this does not mean we should compete. This means that we should coordinate our efforts” [17].

Within the framework of a separate meeting of the leaders of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, a memorandum on the development of the Iranian energy industry was signed, within which Gazprom will begin construction of a gas pipeline to India with a length of 1.2 thousand km, as a result of which the Russian concern will develop fields located along the gas pipeline. The Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation A.Novak noted that this is a “sufficiently large-scale project, capital-intensive” [18]. A.Novak stressed: “Indian companies are taking part in this project, as well as Pakistan, Russian and Iran” [19].

The Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran also signed agreements on the construction of a thermal power plant in Bendery Abbas in southern Iran and on electrification of the Garmsar – Ince Burun railway line. The deal will amount to $ 2.5 billion [20]. In addition, the presidents of the three states expressed their support for the project implementation on the interconnection of the electricity grids of the three states and agreements on electricity trade [21].

 

Iranian nuclear program

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran took place against the backdrop of tensions between Iran and the United States following the refusal of US President D. Trump to confirm Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement and the introduction by Washington of penalty measures against Tehran for its actions to create ballistic missiles [22]. This led to the discussion of Iran’s nuclear program at the RF – Iran – Azerbaijan summit.

Following the tripartite talks, Moscow, Tehran and Baku stated: “The parties, while emphasizing the special importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program as an example of an effectively working arrangement for resolving a complex international problem, recognize that its successful implementation requires all participants to rigorously adhere to their obligations with due use by the Islamic Republic of Iran and other participants in the Joint Plan in accordance with its provisions” [23].

The joint statement of the Presidents of the three countries also noted that the parties take into account the IAEA’s adherence to Iran’s obligations under the plan and “recall the duty of all UN member states to assist in the implementation of this multilateral agreement” [24].

After the trilateral meeting, the heads of the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan expressed their gratitude to the leadership of Iran for holding a trilateral meeting. So, I.Aliyev stated: “Our relations are developing well and are at a high level”. In turn, V.Putin expressed his satisfaction with the results of the joint work of the three sides and said: “We are hoping for further productive cooperation with our Iranian partners and friends, and I give high marks to the results of today’s visit”.

President H.Rouhani noted: “Today we have held the second trilateral summit meeting in Tehran. This meeting is based on friendship and neighbourly relations between our three countries. Friendship, geographical proximity and cultural ties will serve our nations’ prosperity…Relations between our three countries are developing steadily. We intend to use our potentials for the prosperity of our nations”. In general, the visit of the President of the Russian Federation to Tehran and his meetings with the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan were held on a friendly note.

As the analysis of the situation shows, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran goes beyond the framework of an ordinary official visit, because the talks in the Iranian capital were held both in bilateral (Russia-Iran) and trilateral (RF-Iran-Azerbaijan) formats. Even more important is the fact that Russia begins to behave in the Near and Middle East not just as one of the players, but also as a potential intermediary and even an arbiter that facilitates the settlement of complex regional problems. Undoubtedly, this is due to the weakening of the former unconditional leadership of the United States in this strategically important region.

As we can see, the Russian-Iranian talks and the tripartite meeting in Tehran resulted in the signing of a number of important agreements. However, their implementation will depend not only on the political will of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan, but also on the rapidly changing situation in the Middle East.

Thus, the Syrian conflict is still far from its full resolution. Due to the contradictory position of the United States, the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran remains questionable. The Islamic State has suffered a number of major military defeats, but has not yet been totally defeated. There is a tension around Iraqi Kurdistan and complicated political processes in Saudi Arabia, etc.

All these important and significant factors attest to continuing strategic uncertainty in this region. At the same time, there is no doubt that Russia is beginning to play an increasingly important role in solving numerous problems of the Middle East.

_____________________

[1] Встреча с Президентом Ирана Хасаном Рухани //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55980.

[2] Встреча лидеров России, Ирана и Азербайджана //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55983.

[3] Заявления для прессы по итогам встречи Владимира Путина, Президента Ирана Хасана Рухани и Президента Азербайджана Ильхама Алиева //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/55984.

[4] Встреча с Али Хаменеи // http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55982

[5] Ayatollah Khamenei suggests, Iran and Russia remove USD in economic transactions //http://english.khamenei.ir/news/5251/Ayatollah-Khamenei-suggests-Iran-and-Russia-remove-USD-in-economic.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] President in a meeting with his Russian counterpart: Russia a friend, neighbour, strategic partner to Iran/Tehran welcomes active participation of Russian investors, private sector in different fields/Russia’s role effective in strengthening JCPOA/Iran-Russia cooperation until the end of the fight against terrorism in Syria imperative //http://www.president.ir/en/101403.

[10] Совместное заявление Президента Российской Федерации, Президента Азербайджанской Республики и Президента Исламской Республики Иран // http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5247.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Заявления для прессы по итогам встречи Владимира Путина, Президента Ирана Хасана Рухани и Президента Азербайджана Ильхама Алиева //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/55984.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Эксперты: транспортный коридор «Север — Юг» дополнит китайский «Шелковый путь» //http://tass.ru/transport/4697515.

[15] Совместное заявление Президента Российской Федерации, Президента Азербайджанской Республики и Президента Исламской Республики Иран //http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5247.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Заявления для прессы по итогам встречи Владимира Путина, Президента Ирана Хасана Рухани и Президента Азербайджана Ильхама Алиева //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/55984.

[18] Газпром построит в Иране газопровод для поставок в Индию //http://energo-news.ru/archives/143823.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Railroads’ Role Expanding in Iran’s Freight Transportation //https://financialtribune.com/articles/domestic-economy/75184/railroads-role-expanding-in-iran-s-freight-transportation.

[21] Заявления для прессы по итогам встречи Владимира Путина, Президента Ирана Хасана Рухани и Президента Азербайджана Ильхама Алиева //http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/55984.

[22] Iran Says Its President Turned Down a Meeting With Trump //https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-29/iran-s-rouhani-said-to-reject-trump-s-request-to-meet-at-un.

[23] Совместное заявление Президента Российской Федерации, Президента Азербайджанской Республики и Президента Исламской Республики Иран //http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5247.

[24] Ibid.