Expert: Paying attention to social contexts essential to strengthening ties with neighbors

September 10, 2021 - 18:18

TEHRAN - An expert on West Asia stresses the need to pay attention to social contexts to strengthen relations with neighbors.

“Relative homogeneity of civilizational and cultural areas and risks such as terrorism, environmental problems and poverty are a good platform for cooperation in economic, political and security sectors with the countries of the region,” Nosratollah Tajik said, IRNA reported on Friday.

About the Raisi administration’s foreign policy to strengthen the Islamic Republic’s relations with neighbors, Tajik said: "Prioritizing strengthening relations with neighbors is a positive development in itself, but it requires a coherent and workable action plan because the previous administrations have been pursuing this goal but have not been successful in all areas”.

The former Iranian ambassador to Jordan added: "In addition to having a coherent plan, strengthening relations with neighbors requires the political will of both sides and efforts to understand the concerns of the other side and provide trust-building grounds for mutual cooperation."

In the past, this issue has always faced challenges, and in some cases, Tajik noted, Iran had not political will, and in other cases, the parties did not have the political will to improve relations.

“Iranophobia preventing strengthening ties with neighbors”

Referring to the efforts of the enemies of the Islamic Republic to create Iranophobia, Tajik said: "In order to improve relations with our neighbors, it is necessary to properly elaborate on Iran's policies to the people and governments of the region so that they understand that we seek peaceful coexistence." 

Tajik likens the countries of the region to the passengers of a ship Achieving this goal by using public diplomacy and building trust is possible, the expert remarked.

The former Iranian ambassador to Jordan also pointed to the structural problems of the region to improve relations.

"Some of Iran's neighbors, especially the countries south of the Persian Gulf, have Iranophobia and see the improvement of the Islamic Republic's relations with the world to their detriment. To reduce Iranophobia and build trust in these countries, we need to create social, political, security, economic, cultural, and civilizational contexts so that we can connect with the people and government of these countries.”

Tajik likened the countries of the region to the passengers of a ship, saying: "We need comprehensive solutions to resolve disputes and improve relations in a way that takes into account the interests of all countries in the region and can play a win-win game for all."
"Having 15 neighbors is an advantage for the country," he said. "Each of our neighbors has different political, economic, cultural and social advantages, and we can work with them to take advantage of them”.

He said centralized administrative system without having broad view for the region creates an obstacle to strengthening the Islamic Republic's relations with other countries, especially border provinces with neighbors.

"The economies of neighboring countries can complement Iran's economy and the two sides can use each other's capabilities, but at the same time one should not be hopeful that the neighbors can solve all of our problems because they also face their limitations and requirements”.

“Social, historical commonalities with neighbors” 

Tajik said creating opportunities for expanding political, economic, social, and cultural co-operation with neighbors is the most necessary step in this direction.

"If we do not have an effective foreign policy with proper foreign arrangements and interactions, we will not be able to make good use of our neighbors' capacity," the political expert highlighted.
“So it is this set of issues that can move our economy forward. At the same time, we should not neglect the other capacities that exist in the world and focus only on the capacities of our neighbors and be satisfied with the regional balance.”

The senior expert pointed to the historical, civilizing, and cultural depth of Iran and said: "Because of the historical depth that we have, we can claim that we have socio-cultural commonalities with all neighbors and different capacities for cooperation. It is important that a strong will be formed to use these capacities in the various decision-making bodies”.

In the past, less attention was paid to the cultural, social, and historical commonalities of the nations of the region, Tajik said, adding, “We were unaware of these issues, but the reality is the relative homogeneity of civilizational and cultural areas, as well as common dangers such as terrorism, environmental problems, and poverty, are a good platform for cooperation in the economic, political and security sectors of the region.”

“Oil is a major obstacle to using the neighbors' capacities”

"We have to interact with the world to sell oil," Tajik said, noting that the country's dependence on oil sales is a major obstacle to using the capacity of neighboring countries. 

“So in the current situation, working with our neighbors alone is not enough, although it can alleviate our pain, problems, and challenges, but it cannot solve them.”

"In addition to working with our neighbors, we need to solve international problems because using direct financial channels with our neighbors cannot meet our foreign exchange needs lonely and completely," the former diplomat explained.

Tajik called for a comprehensive review of the administration's foreign policy, adding that maximizing the country's interests would depend on establishing stability and security in the region and working with all countries.

“In this regard, it is necessary not to polarize the region. But at the same time, boosting non-oil exports to neighboring countries and refraining from selling crude and using the capacity of mines, petroleum products, tourism and agriculture can reduce our economic dependence and better guarantee the country's political independence”.

Iran should not miss any opportunity for countries to get closer to each other, the expert stressed.
“If not, we will prepare the conditions for the intervention of powers outside the region. The most important principle in this regard should be to solve the problems of the region with foresight, comprehensiveness and joint cooperation”.

The former Iranian ambassador to Jordan added: "The continuation of the current status quo in the region will lead to the outflow of more capital and its conversion into weapons, and as a result increase the general poverty of the people in the region, which will make life difficult for all." 

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