Official Says Immigration Not Necessarily Negative

September 4, 2002 - 0:0
TEHRAN -- Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Ali Hadi said here Monday that immigration should not be viewed negatively.

Speaking at the end of the Foreign Ministry spokesman's weekly press conference with domestic media, he added that it is better not to characterize immigration as brain-drain 'as long as the people who immigrate keep in touch with the homeland', IRNA repo rted.

"We, at the Foreign Ministry, do not interfere in the affairs of the Iranian would-be-immigrants and they can visit the country as many times as they want to," he added. He also elaborated on the functions of his section, adding three million Iranians who have dual citizenship live abroad and, "we must try to preserve their national and religious identity."

He further said that there is a consensus among the country's officials on facilitating contacts by expatriates with their compatriots inside the country.

To this end, the necessary directives are routinely issued by the Foreign Ministry, Hadi said.

"All Iranian who have valid birth certificate are issued passports even if they have obtained unauthorized foreign citizenship," he added.

He also said other Foreign Ministry's tasks for Iranians residing abroad, include dealing with those eligible for military service, individuals who have illegally left the country, legal registration of divorce, and following-up on cases of Iranians who a re imprisoned in foreign countries.

Expediting the process of issuing visas at Iranian embassies is among the factors that has lead to higher number of tourists 'from 700,000 in 1997 to about two million this year'.

He also said that one-year multiple entry visas are issued to businessmen, industrialists and others who frequently visit Iran for work as well as travel agency operators organizing tours of the country.

Hadi said that given the developments in Afghanistan, visa requirement for citizens of Persian Gulf states who want to visit Iran is still enforced.

Meanwhile, earlier the English-language newspaper******* `Iran Daily'******* quoted a Parliament Member Ali Nazari as saying that the number of Iranians -- mostly fresh university graduates -- going to live in foreign lands is 'catastrophic'.

Quoting the Persian daily*****'Javan'***** it further quoted Nazari as saying that some 80 percent of the country's intelligentsia, mostly youth with outstanding scientific talents and achievements, leave ether for the U.S. or Canada in pursuit of jobs an d higher education'.

For a country like Iran, 'which is struggling hard to attain sustainable development in politics, economics, industries, agriculture, etc., such a figure means that it could run out of needed talents in the near future," it said.

The brain drain phenomenon has for some years topped the agenda of various political circles, but none have put forth a systematic formula to stop the dangerous trend, it bemoaned.

It concluded by urging the Iranian government to give expatriates a 'reason to return' as, otherwise, there would be 'no way of countering the national catastrophe now unfolding in the country'.