عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: The tension and conflict between Baku and Yerevan in the last three decades has affected Iran's bilateral relations with both of these two countries. On the other hand, the Economic influence of rival powers in the region, has doubled Tehran's regional concerns. Therefore, preventing the threats and taking advantage of existing opportunities have become a significant necessity for Iran. According to mentioned conditions, in the period of 2013-2021, Tehran tried to use economic opportunities created by its new approach in foreign policy in light of the JCPOA.
Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan are considered as Iran's getaway to reach Russia and Europe. We will use Geopolynomics topic as a conceptual framework in evaluating Iran's bilateral relations with Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, emphasizing the approach of Rouhani's government in the field of foreign policy between 2013 and 2021. This article uses the phenomenological method to analyze the collected data.
Research Question: This article intends to address the following question to some extent. What was Rouhani's government's approach to bilateral relations with the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia?
Research Hypothesis: Tehran has prioritized economic issues in its foreign policy in the post-JCPOA period. Tehran's geo-economic attitude towards the expansion of relations with the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia shows a significant example of a new approach. In the past decades, the relations between Iran and Armenia have continued according to the existing capacities but bilateral relations between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan have experienced a more cooperative approach compared to the last decade. The outstanding geo-economic position of the Republic of Azerbaijan improved the status of this country in Iran's foreign policy and as a result, strengthened Tehran-Baku relations (between 2013-2021) compared to Tehran-Yerevan relations.
Methodology (and Theoretical Framework if there are): Geopolynomics is an analytical tool to explain the policy issues facing the post-Cold War world and the 21st century. It could be said that Geopolynomics is an informal intergovernmental regime. In fact, this term serves as informal rules between governments for economic cooperation and regional integration by taking into account the security concerns of the other side. In other words, Geopolynomics is created from the combination of Geopolitics and Geo-economics. Therefore, it can provide a useful conceptual framework for analyzing a wide range of issues such as transit corridors, transportation, energy and trade exchanges by considering security issues.
Results and Discussion: After the first Karabakh war Armenia faced with many geopolitical obstacles and economic challenges imposed by the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey. Therefore, cooperation with Iran is very attractive for Armenia to circumvent the imposed restrictions. Tehran-Baku relations are affected by geopolitical problems (Karabakh conflict), ethnic issues, religious ideology, the presence of extra-regional powers (arms cooperation with Israel) the legal regime of the Caspian Sea and its common resources most of which have had a negative impact on Tehran-Baku relations. Based on the main foreign policy discourse during president Rouhani’s administrations (2013-2021), the importance of Geo-economics has become more prominent. It seems that geo-economic elements have had a greater impact on the development of bilateral relations between Tehran and Baku than Yerevan. It is also noteworthy that geopolitical concerns remain active despite Geo-economic cooperation. This issue can be examined in the following three aspects:
1) The meeting of high-ranking officials,
2) Important agreements reached between the two sides regarding construction of transit corridors,
3) Trade volumes.
n the period mentioned in this article (August 2013 to August 2021), 47 high-level meetings were held between Tehran and Baku officials. Also, more than 130 meetings were held between the ministers, deputies and senior managers of the two countries. In comparison with the Republic of Azerbaijan, only 23 high level official meetings occurred between Iranian and Armenian officials and less than 40 meetings were held among low-level government officials. The abundance of meetings can indicate the political will to cooperate. In the discussion of South Caucasus, transportation and energy exchange is the most important measure of cooperation. In this regard, the Rouhani administration has signed several agreements with Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is important to point out that these republics are parts of International North-South Corridor. This multi-purpose corridor connects Iran's southern coasts in the Persian Gulf with Russia and Europe. There is no independent railway between Iran and Armenia. The contract for the construction of this railway line was approved by the governments of Armenia and Iran in 2009. By the end of 2013, the cost of this route was estimated at 3.5 billion dollars. This project was never implemented due to its high cost. On the other hand, Iran- the Republic of Azerbaijan railway is under construction. In addition, Iran is eager to export gas to Europe through south Caucasus region. While the transportation pipeline in Armenia is not developed, the Republic of Azerbaijan has a high potential to connect Iran to the South Caucasus gas pipeline and TANAP in Turkey. The volume of transactions between Iran and Armenia in 2020 was about 400 million dollars. This volume in 2012 was about 275 million dollars. The trade balance between Iran and Armenia has always been in favor of Tehran. On the other hand, the volume of transactions between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan has grown more than Armenia. This volume was less than 270 million dollars in 2012 and reached 495 million dollars in 2019.
Conclusion: This research was conducted with the aim of evaluating the economic and political situation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Iran's foreign relations. The main findings of the article were that bilateral relations between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan increased more than the relations between Iran and Armenia from 2013 to 2021. The stated conditions are a normal choice for Iran because the geo-economic position of the Republic of Azerbaijan has more potential for expanding bilateral relations with Iran. Contrary to the Republic of Azerbaijan's geo-economic importance, Armenia is Iran's vital geopolitical partner in the South Caucasus.