TEHRAN – The Islamic Republic of Iran is a geographically and politically strategic country with a significant position within the international community given its vast energy resources, Iran’s ambassador to Poland and accredited ambassador to Lithuania, Ramin Mehmanparast, said on Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times, the 54-year-old diplomat and former Foreign Ministry spokesman said energy exporting countries have always been the focus of European states.
“However, having the world’s greatest combined oil and gas reserves, Iran is at the epicenter of European states’ equations,” Mehmanparast stated.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tehran Times: What are the challenges and possible prospects of Iran-Europe relations?
Mehmanparast: There are two important issues which can bring the Islamic Republic of Iran and Europe closer to one another. First, Iran possesses great energy resources, which can meet the growing demands of European countries. Second, European states regard Iran as an important country for its capabilities and integrity in the management of regional crises and the establishment of regional tranquility. We have recently witnessed that many European officials have openly spoken of Iran’s crucial role in the region. They have repeatedly stated that Tehran’s help in establishing peace and stability in the region is imperative. On the other hand, Europe is a suitable ground for Iran to secure its economic and political objectives. We have always been interested in developing and expanding our relations with European countries.
European countries should, however, refrain from politicizing issues in regard to Iran and should not adopt illogical and baseless stances. They should also try to benefit from Iran’s massive potential. At times, they have used the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program and its human rights record as tools to exert pressure on Iran. They should avoid taking such measures. Tehran has always expressed its readiness to expand ties with European countries based on a logical, respectful, and mutually beneficial framework, and without any political pressure.
Q: My next question is on the significance of our general diplomacy. What measures should we take to achieve the objectives of our general diplomacy, particularly in the case of those countries which do not have a positive approach toward us and are influenced by the Western media?
A: In the West, it has been quite customary to use tools such as the media to manipulate public opinion in order to achieve political objectives. Such measures are taken to weaken independent and powerful nations. Accordingly, we have unfortunately witnessed many similar moves meant to distort the image of the Islamic Republic. In the West, public opinion is greatly influenced by the deceptive propaganda campaign against our country. Their Iranophobic and Islamophobic campaign against us misrepresents the realities of our nation. Thus, we should make the utmost efforts to introduce the realities of our country to the West. Iran is a beautiful country with noble people.
In the domain of our general diplomacy, we should adopt direct and indirect cultural mechanisms to show the realities of our country to the West. Such policies are very important and beneficial. Our cultural and artistic sectors are responsible for introducing the culture, history, and literature of our country. Broadly speaking, our general diplomacy should be defined in a way in which each and every Iranian is able to introduce the culture and civilization of the country. Such approaches should, however, be coordinated.
Q: How active are our embassies and foreign missions in the area of general diplomacy?
A: Our embassies and foreign missions work in line with our general diplomacy and are actively planning strategies accordingly. As I mentioned earlier, our general diplomacy is not only limited to embassies. Activities inside our country could also have a positive influence on world public opinion. They can present an encouraging image of our country; a country with a young population, where joy and happiness can be clearly seen in the various political and social scenes. Many institutions can contribute to achieve this goal. Our embassies and missions are responsible for coordinating and managing such activities.
Q: How would you describe Iran-Poland relations, the level of their bilateral transactions, and their potential to enhance their ties?
A: Unfortunately, Iran-Poland economic ties are restricted to 60 to 70 million euros annually. However, this is not representative of the two countries’ potential. One of the most important things to do is to introduce Iran and Poland’s potential to their people. We should also try to empower our private sector to play a more active role in Poland.
As the Leader of the Islamic Revolution noted, a resistance economy relies heavily on accelerating local production capabilities to increase quality and boost exports, as well as expand the level of economic and financial transactions with other countries. In the economic and financial spheres, Iran and Poland can be great complements. In the energy sector, Poland’s growing energy demands will bring it closer to energy exporting countries in the long run, particularly Iran. On the other hand, in the area of industry and related equipment, we can make use of Poland’s potential. There are also ample grounds for the promotion of ties in the agricultural, mining, technical, and engineering sectors.
There have recently been constructive negotiations between officials of the two countries. The two countries’ private sectors have also expressed readiness to increase their activities. We hope that Iran and Poland make use of their potential to increase the level of their trade to at least a couple of billion euros annually.
Q: Does that mean that at the moment our priority is to increase the level of our economic ties with Poland? What about our cultural and political relations?
A: At the moment, we are pursuing two main priorities simultaneously. Our first priority is to boost economic cooperation. Our embassy in Warsaw is responsible for coordinating economic and financial activities. Secondly, we are pursuing activities pertaining to the area of our general policy. Both of these will affect the promotion of Iran-Poland ties positively. The more successful we are in our general diplomacy, the more the people of the two countries will get to know each other, and the more the two countries’ economic and political ties will flourish. This is one of the most important objectives of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Warsaw.
Q: How can Iran and Europe cooperate on the issue of terrorism and on developments in the Middle East and Iraq?
A: Due to its strategic position, the Middle East region has become an area of operations for terrorists. Were it not for the financial and logistical help of certain powers, these terrorists would not have been able to move about freely in the region. It is obvious that these terrorist cells have been organized with specific political objectives. They make every effort to weaken the major nations of the region, hoping to divert Muslim countries’ attention from more important issues, such as uniting with one another to solve the problems of Muslim countries. Iran’s position is to try to make regional states more vigilant and invite them to unite and rely on their own people to fight against such terrorist groups. Regional countries should not allow extra-regional powers to interfere in their domestic and regional affairs. Iran has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to resolve regional crises and has become a source of peace, security, and stability for regional countries. Tehran’s stance in regard to the issue of terrorism is clear: the international community should coordinate joint action against terrorism. [When] terrorism, killings, and the massacre of people occur in a country, they can easily be exported to other states. European countries should also take the issue of terrorism more seriously since many terrorists fighting in the Middle East come from Europe. Eventually, the flames of instability burning in the Middle East will reach Europe. Those who claim to be advocates of a campaign against terrorism should display their resolve through action. They should realize that one cannot divide terrorism into good and bad. Those who are aiding these groups are partners in their crimes, either directly or indirectly.
Q: How do you anticipate the outcome of the Iran-5+1 group negotiations over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program?
A: Well, in our opinion, the talks are underway for us to obtain our rights and secure our national interests. Right from the beginning of the negotiations, we announced our preparedness to cooperate with the international community within the framework of internationally recognized regulations. The issue, however, has been diverted from its technical and legal path and has been turned to a political agenda. The Iranian side has always participated in talks with great sincerity and honesty, not seeking anything but the nation’s inalienable rights. We will not relinquish our rights under any circumstances. We hope to achieve our objectives and obtain our rights by relying on the unity between our nation and their officials, as well as on the guidelines of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.