Iran’s ambassador to Switzerland, Gholamali Khoshroo, who is also a foreign policy analyst, has written an opinion piece looking at the positive aspects of President Rouhani’s New York trip and the opportunities that lie ahead for both Iran and the West.
IRD (www.IRDIPLOMACY.com), an Iranian website focusing on international relations and foreign policy, in late September posted the ambassador’s opinion piece online. What you are to read below is an IFP translation of the original Farsi text:
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani met with heads of state from several European countries, including France, Britain and Switzerland, on the sidelines of the [69th] UN General Assembly [in New York in mid-September]; these meetings could open a new chapter in Iran’s ties with Europe.
Europe has been hit with the Ukrainian crisis and disputes with Russia over the past year, the political and economic dimensions of which have affected the entire Europe in one way or another.
And now with the extremism coming to a head in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe is watching its interests put at stake and [worse than that] an exodus of thousands of its citizens joining the ranks of extremist and terrorist Takfiri groups, something which in turn poses a serious threat to Europe’s security.
As far as talks between Iran and the West over the former’s nuclear case are concerned, although some [preliminary] steps have been taken toward the settlement of the [outstanding] issues on the agenda, the West digs in its heels when it comes to its unilateral and unfounded stances, and has practically pushed its economic and diplomatic relations with Iran to the brink of stagnation and lethargy.
One-sided sanctions imposed by the US and Europe [against Tehran] have virtually disrupted economic and financial transactions between Iran and Europe, which has in turn taken a heavy toll on Europe’s crisis-hit economy.
If Europe tends to take into account its own strategic interests, it would realize that Iran could be a good trading and economic partner and also the moving spirit behind efforts to bolster peace and stability in the region.
The interaction the Cabinet of Prudence and Moderation is seeking to establish with Europe is not a merely diplomatic compliment; rather, it is a strategic approach.
If Europe is concerned about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, Iran can provide sufficient and objective assurances [that its program is civilian], so Europe needs to seize the moment to first arrive at a balanced reconciliation in the nuclear case and then reconstruct its economic and diplomatic ties [with Tehran].
The opportunity has knocked on Europe’s door and it can answer it by investing in Iran and entering partnership with the country in its energy, mining and industrial projects.
The economic ties between Iran and Europe will be a stabilizing factor for the wider region. Economic and industrial cooperation between Iran and Europe could bring about development and progress and could help build confidence and ensure stability.
Once and for all, Europe has to develop a strategic understanding that Iran does not pose a risk, but that it is instrumental for peace and stability. Policies and extensive publicity which identify Iran as a grave security threat to the region and the whole world have dealt the heaviest blow to Europe’s interests.
If Europe changes its mentality, it would distinctly learn that Iran’s nuclear program is only a part of this country’s plan for development and energy generation. Europe’s sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil sectors lack legal substance and are not economically justifiable. As for its longer-term interests, Europe should soon take the long view to see a post-sanctions period [in Iran].
Iran’s president put forward a plan last year at the UN General Assembly to take on extremism and violence. If the West had devoted serious attention to Iran’s plan, we wouldn’t have seen such brutalities in Iraq, Syria and Africa.
Iran’s approaches are strategically profound, but unfortunately policies adopted by Europe and the US are inconsistent and a matter of routine. Iran has taken the lead in fighting extremism and terrorism. In recent years, Takfiri terrorists have massacred thousands of Shiite people with Europe looking the other way.
Following the recent mass killings, the US president admitted that a Shiite Iran is not a security threat but that the dire threat comes from the Sunni extremism which has manifested itself in the form of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Was it necessary to let the blood of numerous innocent people spill in order to realize this plain fact?
The fight against extremism and violence is a complicated, multidimensional issue. If Europe duly takes into consideration Iran’s views on this matter, it could, in cooperation with Iran, notch up success in combatting violence.
So Iran’s role in establishing peace and stability is in contrast with Europe’s approach of imposing sanctions and applying pressures on Iran.
Recent meetings between the Iranian president and heads of state from Europe are all meant to develop mutual understanding and enhance cooperation and interaction.