Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.15
by Viktoriya Zhavoronkova, T. Jafarov - Trend:
Iran is on the way to economic recovery as a result of relative success in its talks with the West over the question of nuclear development and as a result Tehran is seeking new economic partners. Iran evaluates the Central Asian states as important potential allies in economic and political areas, given their close geographic location and almost unexplored fruitful economic market.
Media reports on Iran's joint projects with the Central Asian countries appear more frequently. At the moment one of the most important areas for cooperation between Iran and Central Asia is the construction of railways and the usage of existing transport routes. Several experts even believe that during the years when Western sanctions were enforced, Iran's economy survived thanks to the export of its goods to such countries as Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
During the past 20 years Iran signed a wide range of agreements with Central Asian countries in political, economic and security areas, so this demonstrates the importance of this cooperation for Tehran, Iranian expert on Central Asia and Russia, a Professor at Tehran University Jahangir Karami believes.
"The potential for Iran-Cetral Asia cooperation is as wide as it even does not depend on economic situation in the countries of the region," Karami told Trend.
Iranian independent expert on Central Asia and Caucasus Bakhram Amirahmadian believes , that Iran's new government also demonstrated its interest in the development of collaboration with the Central Asian states as well as with the countries of Caucasus and Afghanistan.
"The country was linked to Central Asia in 1996 by means of a railway, and at that time the countries of the region got an access to the ocean through Iranian Bandar Abbas port," the expert told Trend. He also stressed the fact that Iran invests large amounts of money in the region's construction sphere.
Amirahmadian believes, that at the moment Iran intends to use the whole pontential of the region's states, especially in the area of nano technology, motor vehicle production, oil and gas sector and others.
Along with the strategic importance of these economic areas, they are very profitable.
Holding special exhibitions of Iran's export products in Central Asia, especially in the area of Engineering and Technology Services may help to improve the cooperation between the sides, said Sohrab Salimi, the Director of Iran's Export Development Engineering and Technology Services, Fars agency reported on Jan. 15.
Central Asia now appears to be a free, unexplored market, that have been attracted political hegemons long time ago, and now Iran with his ambitions tries to get his piece of this pie.
But experts believe that a number of problems exist in this process.
"There are several problems in Iran, Central Asia cooperation, one of which is transparency, and this creates bariers in the process of project implementation in the region's states," Amirahmadian said. Kerimi also believes that economic potential of the Central Asian countries is limited due to political reasons and general economic instability.
Central Asian bank system is also imperfect and some difficulties appear in the process of money transfering, needed for carring business activity there, Bakhram Amirahmadian added.
Besides a number of problems in Central Asia, Iran itself unintentionally prevents its cooperation with the region from intensive development.
Western sanctions imposed on Iran, sectional character of the bilateral negotiations as well as Tehran's nuclear problem and its illogical and inflexible position on the issue of the Caspian sea legal status prevents the cooperation from rapid widening, Iranian independent expert on Caucasus and Central Asia Hassan Behishtipur told Trend.