Before the separation from Iran, the Caucasus was one of the important centers of Iranian Islamic culture, literature, and art, which can continue the life of Iranian Islamic identity for years to come. The Islamic Republic of Iran has relations with all three republics of the Caucasus, and according to its foreign policy, it considers improving relations with all the region's countries.
Historically, relations between Iran and Armenia are among the oldest and longest relations between the people of the Middle East. The history of relations between these two neighboring countries goes back about three to four thousand years, and the history of Armenia cannot be studied accurately without knowing the history of Iran. During the last ten centuries, Armenians have had good relations with Iran, apart from the ethnic and historical connection. On this basis, Armenia has long taken many cultural values from Iran and reciprocally transferred other values to Iranians. In this regard, coexistence with the respect of Iranian Armenians for many years has doubled the interests of Iran and Armenia to develop and strengthen relations.
The most important factor in strengthening and deepening relations between two nations and two countries in today's world is culture, and this issue becomes especially important when two countries are geographically neighbors. It is an undeniable fact that Iran and Armenia have formed friendly relations based on common civilizational and cultural elements for a long time and throughout history. Interestingly, more than 1,400 Persian words are currently used in the Armenian language, and many other words with Persian roots and a slight change in pronunciation are from these influences.
The important issue is that the defining characteristic of Iranian Armenians is the ability to negotiate their identity within the codified legal hierarchy and framework. The identity elements of Armenians are: 1- Mount Ararat, 2- Names and designations, 3- Symbolic return to the historical past, 4- Armenian language, the Armenian alphabet, 5- Translation movement and celebration of translation among Armenians, 6- Armenian music, 7- Church and Christianity, 8- The idea of returning to the motherland, and 9- Armenian traditions.
The fact is that any type of activity between two countries requires a detailed understanding of each other's values, interests, and beliefs. This is especially important in cultural diplomacy as the most important tool in foreign relations, and conveying the message to the audience with the tool of culture, which is a byproduct of the beliefs and values of each nation, can be the source of transformation in cultural interactions between the two nations. At the same time, all kinds of literary works written in Persian, Armenian, and English languages, as well as other cultural works in music, art, and film, play an important role in cultural communication.
In cultural interactions, the important problem is our understanding of concepts such as multiculturalism and transnationalism in the comparative process, and in dealing with different cultures, as well as resistance to dualist thinking, flexibility to ambiguity and managing ambivalence is important. At the same time, an important feature of Iranian-Islamic civilization in important historical periods has been the acceptance and peaceful coexistence between the Muslim majority and other religious and ethnic minorities. Therefore, the role of Iranian nationalism in a comparative process with other countries in the region has been limited in historical marginalization and forced migration.
Anyway, the Armenian collective identity with flexibility, adaptability, and continuity continues to this day and acts as a bridge between the homeland and the host nation, paying attention to the Iranian people's knowledge of culture, art, and literature, as well as the wide influence of factors such as religion, politics and economy in Armenian society and the important role of family, music and virtual space in filling in free time are important. Therefore, active and dynamic cultural diplomacy aligned with the speed and quality of today's digital world can play an important role in deepening the relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Armenia in various fields. Considering the historical, civilizational, and cultural age of the connection between Iran and Armenia on the one hand and the current political and social situation of Armenia in the region on the other hand, the expansion and deepening of bilateral relations through the tools of cultural diplomacy, in sync with up-to-date tools and methods and with making decisions based on careful consideration of the influencing factors in the target society will benefit both nations from better results.
Ali Bemaneqbali Zarch, a senior expert in Eurasia
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)