Tehran and Moscow: new areas of cooperation

Mehdi Sanai, Iranian Ambassador to Russia said: “Relations between the two countries in various fields — economic, technological, their talks on international issues — entering a new phase, and also experiencing a noticeable rise.”

Sanai, on the eve of visit to Moscow the President of Iran, due to begin tomorrow, said: “relations between the two countries in recent years witnessed a large number of visits by different delegations in both directions, as well as signing a large number of different documents.”

The growth of regional cooperation in recent years

Sanai added that, according to many Russian analysts, for the last 3-4 years relations between the two countries can be described as a real “boom” never before seen in the history of cooperation between the two countries.

Cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in the areas of policy, defence, international law has reached a new level that the country never reached in previous years — continues to Sanai.

Sanai also said that in total already third visit of the Iranian President Rouhani to Russia, and in General meetings of the heads of the two States for the last 4 years was 8, and added that the growth of interaction between the parties and brought new results. As for regional cooperation, it had already entered a different phase, and its “positive effect” was also evident.

Now, like Sanai — are very important negotiations between Iran and Russia on Afghanistan to help the country to finally achieve stabilization and to establish a peaceful inner dialogue. The sides also monitoring the situation and conduct mutual consultations on Central Asian and Caucasian regions.

There is also says Sanai — cooperation on critical areas in the international sphere. There were talks on human rights and on disarmament. Worthy of appreciation the participation of Russia, during the last three years, in cooperation with Iran over the “nuclear deal” that was noted by many officials of the Islamic Republic.

The growth of bilateral ties

Iranian Ambassador to Russia recalled, in this regard, the visit to Iran by Vladimir Putin in 1394 [traditional Iranian calendar, which corresponds to the 2015 — approx. transl.], that during the visit there were successful negotiations leading to the signing of a number of “promising” agreements.

Among the obvious breakthroughs in bilateral relations — continued Sanai — is the fact that over the past [after the visit of Putin — approx. transl.] 2 years signed several documents on economic cooperation, and thus, laid the legal support of bilateral cooperation in the areas that provided the content of such documents.

Sanai noted that was first obtained an export license from Iran to Russia and already have actually exported such goods, as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, which previously never in the history of cooperation between the two countries was not observed, and a total of about 30 Iranian companies have received approvals for export of these products.

Sanai also said other details of the bilateral cooperation, highlighting in particular, that Russia has allocated the sum total of $ 5 billion of loans for implementation of several major projects, among which we can point to the start of construction of four reactors for a thermal power plant in Bandar Abbas and also, electrification of the railway section Garmsar — Ince Burun.

Sanai reminded about the signing of other documents, including on “green customs corridor”, saying that the signing of these agreements was a very important achievement, because it answered a very old “expectations” of the parties. The steps taken contributed to the emergence of many exemptions and simplification of procedures in this area. In fact, bilateral relations have acquired over the last three years, a number of important features. And, speaking about the reasons of dynamism and momentum in the development of cooperation between Iran and Russia, he said: “relations between the two countries in the last three years were like axial for both countries problem. Special priority has received the identification of existing obstacles and overcoming them. The dynamism asked such features and areas as security, Commerce, defense, economy”.

The Ambassador noted that the very positive impact of the final resolution of the issue of transfers to Iran rocket complexes With-300, after 10 years of different kinds of restrictions: all obstacles are removed and the rocket transferred from Russia to Iran that became an indicator of the growing confidence of the two countries to each other.

Still Sanai said that the measures taken in the trade and economic relations, proved its effectiveness. So, based on Russian customs statistics, trade turnover between the two countries in 2016 has grown by 70%, and we need to hope and to make further efforts to these trends are preserved, and also to the direction of the relationship would come out at the proper level.

The visit of Iranian President to Moscow, he continued Sanai — will undoubtedly have a positive impact on relationships, will give an additional impetus to the directions developed in recent years and define new directions. On this occasion Sanai noted that after the visit it is expected the adoption and signing by the parties of the Declaration, which will include a description of the directions [relations — approx. transl.], their level and goals, and that will be it lists, as well as all the names of the directions and explanations of them will be sort of a comprehensive strategy of bilateral cooperation. He explained that relations between the two countries, in various aspects, acquired an important strategic features, and, in fact, this document will define the path you want to move on to cooperation, given the data features would be really full.

Sanai added that during the visit will be signed 15 documents, which can be said to contain practically all spheres of cooperation, among them consular, judicial, legal, industry, communications, policy, energy, transport and tourism. Will also signed a Memorandum of understanding and cooperation between the energy ministries of Russia and Iran.

Ahead of the visit, continued Sanaei, the two countries signed several important documents in oil and gas sector. 6 large Russian companies, after the signing of the Memorandum will begin in Iran work in the study of oil fields. On the eve of the visit between the ministries of energy of Russia and Iran in the oil and gas sector was signed two important documents.

The Ambassador of Iran said that one of the documents, which are expected to be signed during the visit, concerns the abolition of visas for group tourist trips. Sanai explained that the process of abolishing the visa regime passes through three stages, the first stage concerns the simplified order of issuing visas for tourists, entrepreneurs, students and workers of science and culture. The document was signed by Iran and Russia a year ago, and has been operating for several months.

According to Sanai, now initialed the document on the abolition of visas for tourist groups from both countries, so that groups, following a specific route, would not need to obtain visas and permits visas for tourists would be received by the responsible organization. The corresponding document will be signed during the upcoming visit.

The Iranian Ambassador said: “This is the agreement which must be approved in both countries. Hopefully it will pass quickly and it will bring a positive effect, so that Tehran and Moscow would begin negotiations on the complete abolition of visas. To this day, those negotiations have not been conducted, but I hope that the third stage [of the visa-free regime — approx. transl.] will follow soon”.

On upcoming projects

Sanai was described as follows a common range of interests of the parties in relation to the programs of economic and technical cooperation, which will also have to sign agreements, and funding sources of the projects: “the Total cost of projects that were scheduled for the last three years and for which agreements have been reached between the two countries, ranging from 35 to 40 billion dollars. Their implementation is provided, however there are difficulties with funding.”

Based on the fact that the two countries are oil producing, and exporting oil, as well as the fact that they are on a commercial basis interact with the parties-the buyers of oil, for this reason, the scope of availability of these draft financial sources is small, however some of them are, said Sanai.

Now, says Sanai, there are two ways [to resolve problems with financing — approx. transl.], these include the exchange of energy — in this context discuss the sale of Iranian oil to Russia as a way of contributing to the solution of these problems. Agreement on the matter between the Minister of energy of Russia and the Ministry of petroleum resources of Iran has been achieved.

The other path continues Sanai associated with banks that should participate in the funding process. Though the Russian banks also do not have the capacity to Fund projects at a high level, however, Russia has taken in this regard, two important steps, one of which was the allocation of $ 5 billion credit, of which 2.2 billion have already been approved and are in the process of development.

On the other hand, continues Sanai, non-state Russian banks are also involved here, and over the past year of the Christian era, through the implementation of projects in connection with the Iran pledged 200 million dollars, and for the current year, according to the information available to us — even 700 million, but still these funds are not enough.

“Hopefully, the visit of the Iranian President to Moscow will provide any help in solving these problems, for example, to determine third-party funding or the banks that are able to Finance projects or to be approved by agreement of the two countries for the sale of Iranian oil to Russia, which can provide additional sources of funding,” added Sanaei.

The Iranian Ambassador also stated the following: “on the other hand, if the processes that have emerged now, as well as the growth rate, which brought the year 2016 will persist, and, given the very favorable agreements that already exist and documents that have already been signed (though some of them were preparing for the signing from 10 to 15 years), are not encouraging very good prospects for expanding our cooperation.”

If such a rate, says Sanai, will be stored, agreements will be executed and the “green light” will provide custom, you can count on the fact that in a relatively short period of time, some 3-4 years, the trade turnover between our countries reached $ 10 billion, and that figure, which outlined our joint Commission on trade and economic cooperation.

Features of the vision by the heads of Russia and Iran

The Iranian Ambassador also shared his point of view on forecasting regional relations of the two countries after the visit of the Iranian President to Moscow: “Relations between Iran and Russia is not just some ordinary cooperation, which formed the basis for a successful trade transactions and economic ties. This is a very valuable experience, examples of which in the world, its importance and significance, quite a bit. This applies to both regional processes and influence on international relations in General.”

Should be continued Sanai, more attention to the experience of Russian-Iranian relations, as the parties shall cooperate in very important ways. The agreements and the interaction they perform to solve the problems of the world in General and the region have a very big impact. One of the most important areas — of course, Syria, where the influence was enormous and moved the business from a dead point.

For this reason, says the diplomat, relations between Tehran and Moscow, which had tremendous growth over the past three years, are very carefully monitored by analysts all over the world. And during this growth, due to its undeniable importance, very closely watched in Europe and other countries Asia and China.

Sanai also said: “From my point of view, the attention has our esteemed leader of the state, and the special attitude with which the government approaches relations with Russia, plus if you consider the fact that many times has been said and carried out by the Iranian President, foreign Minister and other officials, this all suggests that the relations with Moscow for them in a very special account, and, fortunately, in Russia it still resonates”.

“Moscow also became an advocate for the necessity of expansion of ties with Iran and to give very special importance to this direction, as evidenced by the fact that in 2016 for the first time this position is fixed in the foreign policy documents of Russia, specify the legal form and the special importance of relations with Iran,” said Iranian Ambassador.

“I think, — the diplomat believes that in such an atmosphere and international and regional conditions, these negotiations should lead to a further strengthening of our bilateral and regional ties and to have very important consequences, to bring to life a very serious discussion on the problems of the region.”

Sanai, noting that Iran and Russia are the two main partners in the fight against terrorism, said that the upcoming visit of Iranian President should have an impact on long term relations and, moreover, will be an important signal to the international community that relations between Moscow and Tehran reached a level that deserves special attention, and that this level should become a kind of benchmark for cooperation at regional and international level in General.

Forms of interference by certain other countries in the regional problems did not give positive effect, he continued. In this regard, we can compare the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, with some areas of cooperation and interaction between Iran and Russia, which contributed to countering terrorism and advancing peace and stability in the region.

“I hope that this pattern of cooperation between Iran and Russia will attract the attention of countries such as India and China, as well as some countries outside the region, who were trying to participate in its Affairs for the last 15 years, that these countries would reconsider their approaches and pay attention to the regional form of the solution to the problems of the Middle East and Eurasia”, shared his opinion Sanai.

Iranian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, to conclude the interview with the news Agency IRNA, said the following: “Cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in regional issues has reached a new level in connection with the situation in Syria, and the results were felt not only in the region but in the world as a whole. This cooperation may serve as a guide to peace, stability and to counter terrorism and other regions.”

The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran will arrive in Moscow on Monday, March 27, a two-day official visit at the invitation of President Putin. In the presence of the presidents of the two countries, the Kremlin will be signed several policy documents on cooperation.