Yuri Babakhanyan, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to India, said in an interview on November 29 with a local media outlet news.am that Armenia and India are successfully collaborating, and the benefits will be seen in the near future.
The Ambassador has been speaking with media members as part of the celebrations in Armenia and India to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The event, which took place between November 27-29, was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in collaboration with the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences. It was held over that time period. One of the activities that were organised was the first ever international conference, and the theme of the conference was “new incentives for millennial relations.”
During the conference, RA Deputy Foreign Minister Mnatsakan Safaryan, in his speech in particular, noted, “The deepening and promotion of comprehensive relations with India is one of the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy. Recently, active work has been done in the defence sector of both countries, international transport and communication, tourism and other fields.”
Speaking on the purchase of $260 million in military equipment from India, Ambassador Babakhanyan said that collaboration will not be restricted to a single transaction but will evolve into a strategic partnership with India.
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“We are just starting, but we must continue this work and re-equip our army, including with the help of our friendly India,” said Babakhanyan.
He praised Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan’s visit to India. As per Babakhanyan, the meeting was a success, with agreements on future collaboration established.
The Ambassador also underlined that India has constantly supported Armenia’s territorial integrity, implying that India will reject the extraterritorial corridor through Armenia’s Syunik area, which threatens Armenia’s sovereignty.
International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
When asked what India’s position regarding the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” announced by Azerbaijan is, the Ambassador answered, “India has repeatedly supported Armenia’s territorial integrity and already based on that, it becomes clear that India is against the extraterritorial corridor, which violates Armenia’s sovereignty and cannot be positively accepted by friendly India.
Speaking on the North-South corridor, Babakhanyan said that “On the other hand, India is interested in participating in the Black Sea-Persian Gulf logistics route because it is beneficial for India since it is the shortest route to Europe through the territories of Iran, Armenia and Georgia. In addition to being the shortest way around the Suez Canal, it is also the safest route for India and passes exclusively through the territory of friendly countries, which is very important in our extremely turbulent times. So India is also interested in this issue.”
The North-South route will connect Russia and India via Iran. Armenia and Iran share a boundary in the region of Syunik. Azerbaijan is also interested in this region and intends to connect it to Nakhichevan and Turkey via a corridor. Due to these circumstances, the situation in the Syunik region is unstable and occasionally escalates to violent military clashes.
Speaking to local media a day before, Armenia’s Ambassador said that the cooperation on the North-South corridor began in the 2000s. According to the Ambassador, India contributes every day to the corridor’s execution and evaluates all feasible solutions that may be of interest.
“Armenia is also making its contribution, but there is an impact of geopolitical processes and a mechanism for making joint decisions on various aspects. We do not decide everything, but our approaches are important to achieve a solution that is beneficial to us. This road is important for us; it is already being formed. This is not an abstract idea but a specific project; however, there are questions of economic feasibility,” the diplomat said.
India and Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict
On November 28, in a conversation with journalists, Ambassador Babakhanyan remarked that India considers Azerbaijan’s activities as aggression towards its friendly Armenia, which increases India’s attention to this crisis.
“We are talking about conducting a more attentive, sensitive policy. At the same time, India is in relations with Azerbaijan, but these relations with Armenia are at a qualitatively higher level,” the ambassador said.
He drew attention to the fact that, unlike Azerbaijan, India and Armenia have nearly identical standing within the United Nations. Babakhanyan is certain that this alignment indicates that the interests of India and Armenia converge.
India Armenia Relations
Armenia and India maintain active political ties. Effective cooperation exists between the two nations within international bodies. After Armenia’s independence, Armenian-Indian relations were reestablished. Diplomatic relations were established between the Republic of Armenia and India on August 31, 1992. In April 1993, India accredited its first ambassador to Armenia with a residence in Kyiv. In 1994, the Republic of Armenia created an honorary consulate in Delhi, and Hovsep Seeryan, a resident of Delhi, was appointed honorary consul. On March 1 1999, the Indian Embassy in Yerevan began operations. The first resident Indian Ambassador to Armenia, Bal Anand, arrived in Yerevan on October 7 and presented his credentials to RA President Robert Kocharyan on November 10. On November 29 1999, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia began operations in India. If the Armenian-Indian political relations can be evaluated as “excellent”, Armenia is the only CIS country with which India had diplomatic relations in 1995 (other than Russia). Armenia has signed the “Friendship and Cooperation Agreement” and has no political issues. But, the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries cannot be deemed adequate.