TEHRAN (IRNA)–Iranian President Mohammad Khatami–on April 11–termed Iran-Armenia ties as important and in line of principled policies based on mutual and regional interests. President Khatami told the Chairman of Armenian Constitutional Court Gagik Arutyunian–that the Armenian minority in Iran is a respected strata of Iranian society.
Referring to developmen’s in the Caucasus and Central Asia and the threats posed to the region–Khatami said there should be efforts to guarantee security and stability in the region without intervention by foreigners and through mutual cooperation. He expressed hope that the implementation of the project–for the transfer of Iran’s gas to Armenia and the construction of Kajaran tunnel–would be effective in stabilizing bilateral ties.
Khatami called for cooperation between Iran and Armenia in the field of transportation and activation of the north-south corridor. He said Armenia is the best route for linking the region to Europe. He hoped that problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia would be solved without foreign intervention–through logic and prudence–direct talks and in the interests of the Azeri and Armenian nations and the region. He stressed the need for constant contacts between the Armenian Constitutional Court and Iran’s Guardians Council (GC)–in order to exchange experiences and safeguard the constitutions of both countries.
Arutyunian–submitting President Kocharian’s message to Khatami–stressed the importance of cooperation between Iran and Armenia in the political–economic–legal and security fields. He welcomed President Khatami’s initiative of dialogue among civilizations.
In related news–Gagik Arutyunian also held talks with Majlis Speaker Hojjat ol-Eslam Mehdi Karrubi on religious freedom in Iran–on April 10.
Karrubi said that Iran is the only country that has constitutionally granted equal rights to religious minorities and assigned parliamentary seats to religious minorities. He elaborated on the procedure of lawmaking in the Islamic Republic of Iran and said that representatives of the religious minorities are involved in the legislation process on equal footing as Muslim MPs. Karrubi said that religious minorities enjoy equal religious freedom and civil rights as their Muslim fellow citizens.
Arutyunian elaborated on the performance of the constitutional court in Armenia and called for sharing experiences between the two countries’ legislatures. He said that his visit to Iran is aimed at getting acquainted with the Iranian legislature–adding that the constitutional rights granted to religious minorities indicated that Islam respects other monotheists.