Armenia made moves to try and quiet Iran's concerns over its decision to open an embassy in Israel following two dozen rallies held outside of the Armenian Embassy in Tehran, according to Armenian news outlet Massis Post.
The rallies were held to condemn Yerevan's plans and to urge it to avoid in any diplomatic presence in “the occupied Palestinian territories.” News reports from the Iranian capital said the protesters chanted “death to Israel” and burned an Israeli flag.
On Wednesday, Armenian Ambassador to Iran Artashes Tumanyan assured the Iranian Foreign Ministry that Armenia remains committed to its relationship with the Islamic Republic despite its desire to strengthen relations with Israel.
Furthermore, Tumanyan discussed the demonstrations with Iranian Foreign Ministry official, Mohsen Faghani. The envoy assured Faghani that Armenia will continue to avoid any involvement in any "anti-Iranian political project," according to Massis Post.
"The ambassador emphasized that Armenian-Iranian friendly relations have been and remain one of Armenia's foreign policy priorities," the statement read.
Additionally, while "some circles" in the Islamic Republic are worried about Israeli influence on Armenia, Faghani praised the current state of Armenian-Iranian relations, and isn't worried that the relationship will be undermined by any discontent with the Armenian diplomatic presence in Israel.
In April, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke, marking the most recent communications between the two leaders. Two weeks later, Pashinyan sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a message congratulating him on his re-election.“I am hopeful that through joint efforts we will be able to replenish and overhaul the agenda of Armenian-Israeli cooperation and build strong ties of mutually beneficial partnership,” Pashinyan wrote.
Armenia, which is known to have weaker ties with Israel, made the announcement that it was going to open an embassy in Tel Aviv in September 2019, a move that was expected to strengthen relations between two countries. The date of the opening has been pushed off likely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Then-foreign minister Israel Katz praised Armenia’s decision, saying that it is a “significant step in the development of bilateral relations” between the two states. While Armenian is the 90th country to open an embassy in the Jewish state, Israel gave no indication that it was considering opening an embassy in Yerevan.
In January, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian commented on Israel's decision to not recognize the Armenian Genocide, in a statement to the Jerusalem Post, while he was in Israel for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“A lot of Armenians ask, ‘Why on Earth would Israel, a country whose people have seen their own huge tragedy, not recognize the Armenian Genocide?’” Sarkissian said.
Later in the year, despite the fact that the Armenian embassy was announced more than six months before, Iran waited until March to announce its disapproval of Yerevan's decision. On March 15, Ali Larijani, a senior adviser to the Iranian parliament, forecast the opening of the Armenian embassy in Tel Aviv would have a "negative impact on stability and security in the region," and urged the Armenian government to "think twice" before making the move, reports the Massis Post.
That same day, Ambassador Tumanyan met with Alireza Haqiqian, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Eurasia department to explain in greater depth the motive behind strengthening ties with Israel.Herb Keinon and Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.