Neighborhood policy receives a boost during Raisi visit to Qatar

February 22, 2022 - 21:17

TEHRAN – Iranian President Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi paid a two-day visit to neighboring Qatar that gave a boost to Iran’s renewed push to develop closer ties with its neighbors. 

The aim of the visit was to participate in the 6th summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) but it also highlighted the “neighborhood policy” the Raisi administration is pursuing to enhance Iran’s relations with its numerous neighbors. 

Iran is one of the few countries in the world that has more than a dozen maritime and land neighbors. Iran has a total of 15 neighbors of which seven share land borders while the remaining shares maritime borders with Iran. 

When Ayatollah Raisi took over as president in August last year, Iran’s relations with most neighbors were either politically tense or economically stagnant. And that had to change. The new president and his foreign policy team assumed power with a clear foreign policy vision in mind: Neighborhood Policy.

The new policy was devised to accomplish the lofty goal of boosting Iran’s economic ties with most neighbors as much as possible. And it served as a guiding principle in almost all the foreign visits Raisi and his top diplomat, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, have made since last August. 

So far, the foreign policy record of Ayatollah Raisi and Amir Abdollahian has been a success. The first achievement in this regard was Iran’s permanent membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (ECO) which was achieved during the first foreign visit by Ayatollah Raisi to Tajikistan. 

The president himself described the membership as a “diplomatic success” in line with his neighborhood policy. 

“One of the dimensions of the visit [to Tajikistan] was the implementation of the government's foreign policy in the field of economic diplomacy and neighborhood policy, which will bring about a new chapter in relations with Tajikistan,” Ayatollah said in September last year. 

Earlier in March of that year, the president had said that “ECO constitutes a priority in the paradigm governing Iran’s regional and neighborhood policies.”

Ayatollah Rasis similarly assessed his trip to Qatar. He said the visit was in line with the neighborhood policy. 

He said that his administration has put a lot of energy and effort into developing Iran’s relations with its neighbors. According to Raisi, shoring up ties with neighbors is at the center of his plan to develop foreign relations. 

“In the months since the beginning of the Popular Administration, relations with neighbors have tripled with some countries, indicating that little attention was paid to these capacities in the past,” the president said, taking a jab at derelictions that occurred during the previous administrations. 

Underlining that he has no doubt that the future of Iran is very bright and promising, the president stated, “This is not just a claim, I know the country and its potentials.”

Ayatollah Raisi made the remarks at a meeting with Iranians living in Qatar during his visit to the tiny Persian Gulf nation. 

At the same meeting, the president put emphasis on a core objective of the neighborhood policy which is increasing Iran’s exports. 

He said, “We are all obliged to try to increase Iran's exports. Today, unfortunately, our share in the region's economy is not in its proper place, while Iranian products in the region have an acceptable and competitive standard.”

It seems that the president succeeded in laying the ground for such an increase. “In the talks [I had] with the Emir of Qatar and in the conversation I had with the Prime Minister of this country, there is a serious will to expand trade and economic relations, so you Iranians living in Qatar can play a very effective role in realizing this will,” Ayatollah Raisi said.


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