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Interview

Visit By Ambassador Of Iran Seyed Hossein Rajabi, 28.07.2015

 

INTERVIEW: SEYED HOSSEIN RAJABI, AMBASSADOR OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN IN BIH

 

Interviewed by: Tarik MOĆEVIĆ

SARAJEVO, July 29 (ONASA) – In the interview the Ambassador Rajabi, among other things, talks about the cooperation between Iran and BiH in cultural, educational and other fields, the Iran’s agreement with the Group 5 + 1, and about the current political situation in the Middle East …


ONASA: The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the largest donors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both during the aggression from 1991 to 1995, and beyond. Are there any data on specific donations of Iran to Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1992 to today?

RAJABI: In the name of God! The Islamic Republic of Iran from the very beginning of independence of BiH has always been with the people and government of this country and has upheld this approach both during the war and after it. Sometimes, with the establishment of the Red Crescent clinic it has provided assistance to the sick and injured, and sometimes with the establishment of the Center for Restoration and the Office “Jahad-e Sezandegi” (Birds) it has provided assistance in the reconstruction of war-damaged houses and social facilities. Then, in the form of agricultural and education in personal skills, and in creating opportunities for raising cattle, the allocation of agricultural machinery and equipment to people who have suffered damage in the war. These activities continued until the introduction of sanctions to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2012. Unfortunately, the introduction of these sanctions, which had nothing to do with the nuclear issue, denied the services of Iran to the people who needed help. The main goal of Iran in helping the people of BiH has always been humanitarian action and Iran in this way never aspired to propaganda or benefiting from this aid. Therefore, we are not inclined to talk about how much and where we have helped, however, citizens of BiH, like in time of war, are very well acquainted with the help of Iran. Therefore, we do not see the need to mention it.


ONASA: How do you comment on the current political situation in BiH?

RAJABI:It has been over twenty years since the independence of BiH. Democratic order of BiH needs greater experience and in recent years have been established different political parties and civil institutions, its democracy is moving forward, and the challenges which we have witnessed in certain periods are, also, the natural challenges of a society on the path towards democratization. If one compares the elections in 2010 with those from 2014, it can be noted that the government in 2010 was formed 17 months after the elections, while, when it comes to elections in 2014, the government was formed in the period of several months after them. This change indicates a movement forward.
The important thing is to make a plan for the implementation of economic and social reforms, regarding which certain steps have been taken. However, in this regard, the role of the international community is very important. The international community needs to help economically, by implementing major projects and fulfilling their obligations, to pave the way.
Another thing of great importance for development of the country is the issue of ethnicity and political parties, that is, the need for cooperation and empathy between them. In the context of national interests they should take action and avoid any conflict on the basis of personal or party interests.

ONASA: Iran, through the Institute “Ibn Sina”, Iranian Cultural Center in BiH, but also in other ways, actively supports cultural cooperation with BiH. Are you satisfied with the current cultural cooperation, and how can it be improved even further?

RAJABI: The presence of Persian manuscripts in the libraries in BiH, the scientific and cultural resources, and the presence of teachers and students studying Persian language, about sixty years of the official studying of the Persian language, as well as the presence of Bosnian students in Iran are part of the cultural cooperation between the two countries. Based on this in recent years between Iran and BiH was signed the Agreement on scientific and cooperation in the field of research. Each year, in addition to cultural ties and cooperation, is being held the Cultural Week of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sarajevo, with the participation of music groups, handicrafts exhibition, films screening and participation at the Festival of Film and Theatre in Sarajevo. However, I believe that there is still enormous capacity in this area which could be used to deepen relations between the people of the two countries.
When it comes to cooperation in the field of education, it is constantly evolving. Of course, BiH is not a big country and does not have many education centers. However, despite that there is concrete cooperation between the University of Sarajevo (UNSA) and certain Iranian universities. At the present, the UNSA is cooperating with universities in Isfahan, Hamedan and Tehran. Less than two months ago the Rector of the University of Hamedan, with the accompanying delegation, paid a visit to Sarajevo, specifically to the Faculty of Philosophy of the UNSA. Members of the delegation, during the visit, met with the management of UNSA. They discussed concrete forms of cooperation, in particular the exchange of students and professors from the two universities.

ONASA: Are you satisfied with economic cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina?

RAJABI: Following BiH independence, between the two countries were signed several economic cooperation agreements in the fields of trading, banking, joint investment, transport, cooperation between chambers of commerce, etc. Until the introduction of sanctions, Bosnian businessmen were among the exporters of goods to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the trade volume between the two countries had risen to 25 million euros. However, unfortunately, after the introduction of sanctions, there was a strong decline in these relations, and Iranian companies because of restrictions imposed by the former authorities of BiH were forced to replace BiH products with products from other countries. In fact, with the introduction of restrictions by former BiH authorities, citizens of this country were deprived of the economic potentials of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The situation has now changed and, to our satisfaction, following an agreement between Iran and the member states of the Group 5 + 1 in November 2013, and the agreement of July 14, 2015, concluded in Vienna, we have witnessed a significant presence of European, Asian, and even US companies in the Iranian market of 80 million people. However, despite the lifting of sanctions, there are no news about the presence of Bosnian companies on the market of Iran. I hope that we will soon be witnessing their effort and dedication to be present and do effective business in the market of Iran. On the other hand, it is clear that, in the case of the lifting of sanctions by the BiH authorities, Iranian companies and investors are ready to participate in the implementation of economic and investment projects in BiH.

ONASA: Individuals in BiH have been accusing Iran that through cultural institutions it is “spreading Shiite propaganda among BiH Sunni Muslims.” How would you comment on these allegations?

RAJABI: Based on the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and as stressed by Imams Khomeini (r.a.), the founder, and ajetullah Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the unity among Islamic Ummah and rapprochement of Islamic madhhabs and divine religions are one of the basic principles of foreign policy of Iran.
On the other hand, the government and people of Iran have, also, by following the rich Iranian culture and civilization and Islamic teachings, always chosen the path of moderation and interaction with other Madhhabs, religions and peoples. We believe that the Sunnis and Shiites, believing in the common God, common Quran and the Prophet of Islam (s.a.v.a.v.s.), are holders of a single faith and that there is no difference between them. Those who work on causing the difference, as the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran has said, are the children of Satan and they follow the specific objectives in order to plunder the resources of Muslims. Perhaps, regarding this, it is better to say that the unrealistic propaganda about madhhabs’ differences within the Islamic Ummah is the unnatural act and part of the old policies “divide and rule” and “organized chaos” that in recent years are being carried out in the Middle East.
In fact, this policy is implemented by means of the security services, the enemies of Islam, the Zionist media and people who know nothing about the real and authentic Islam. The government and people of Iran have never sought or aspired to spread Shiism in BiH or any other place in the world and this poisonous propaganda, objective of which is “iranophobia” and “shiismphobia” is the policy of those organizations and countries that are responsible for the initiation and spread of toxic propaganda against the Islamic world.

ONASA: This month, Iran and six world powers (the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China), after years of negotiations, confirmed that agreement had been reached over Iran’s nuclear program. Sanctions against Iran will be lifted in exchange for Iranian concessions on its nuclear program. How much is the lifting of sanctions important for Iran?

RAJABI: The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Convention on the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction (NPT), has always emphasized its international obligations in this context, was and is committed to them. Even during certain accusations it had never left the negotiating table. However, by contrast, other countries were those that in recent years, despite the voluntary actions of Iran, failed to comply with their obligations and imposed harsh sanctions against the oppressed people of Iran. Those who present themselves as leaders of human rights protection did not even stop at the suspension of the export of medicines and medical equipment needed to treat the sick. But, after the election of H.E. Dr. Rouhani as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the state has once again, with good will, expressed its willingness to eliminate the remaining disputes through negotiations and reach an agreement in the interests of both sides. It culminated in a preliminary agreement in Geneva in 2013, and a final agreement in Vienna this year.
During this period, Iran’s negotiating team, with good will, was determined to implement the rights of the Iranian people, and at the same time eliminate the concern of the opposite side, and has managed to successfully complete the negotiations. Of course, it should be noted that neither the sanctions regime could no longer go on, because it no longer had the desired effect of its creators. On the other hand, Western countries were very well aware that the Iranian nuclear program is of peaceful nature and that there is no possibility of suspension of this knowledge in Iran. Thus, they were forced to recognize our right. Today, while I am talking with you, Iran is working on the implementation of its obligations arising from the Vienna agreement and now it is up to the member states of the Group 5 + 1 to with the execution of obligations practically demonstrate their good will.

ONASA: Are the analyses claiming that the reached agreement will completely change the political landscape of the Middle East exaggerated?

RAJABI: If today you see that the Middle East is affected by tensions and chaos, for that exist various causes such as errors in the assessment of powerful states in terms of understanding the events in the Middle East, external interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region, the greed of some countries in the region, and stirring up of unreal difference to ensure noncollective interests in the region, etc. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite all the pressures to which it has been exposed during the past 35 years, is one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, and is willing to, with the help of other countries in the region and the world community, work towards creating peace and stability in the Middle East and throughout the world.

ONASA: “Islamic State” group is gaining in strength and is expanding its territory. How and in what capacity is Iran currently engaged in the fight against “Islamic State” and does it intend to get actively involved in the fight?

RAJABI: From the very beginning of the appearance of radical currents in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran has warned that countries that seek with exploitation of extreme people and organizations to achieve their goals and policies in the Middle East or in other words, tend to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, are making great mistakes because that policy and instrumental tactics are unreal and their basis is inhumane. History will show that the people who on the blood of the oppressed people make a creation have actually built a spider’s and a loose house and that their act, will not realize their interests, nor will have any result other than stirring up the fire in the region and the world. Unfortunately, not only were these warnings ignored but some states, by providing financial and military aid, and opening their borders, created ISIL and provided them support.
Today, precisely some of these countries, after the appalling crimes of the ISIL and deterioration of the situation, are working to establish an international coalition to overthrow the ISIL. But again they are not sincere in this because their help in various forms still arrives to the ISIL.
I want to emphasize that for the fight against the extremism tide there are different ways such as interruption of support, border control and military action, but the most important way is the unity of the countries of the region and radical struggle in an honest manner and without any politicization against the emergence of extremism.

ONASA: The political crisis and armed conflicts are currently active throughout the Islamic world, and the latest example is the crisis in Yemen to which Tehran had warned earlier, where Shia rebels are fighting against the central government. How do you comment on this or other crises in the Islamic world, and is this, as some interpret, in fact a struggle for regional dominance between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

RAJABI: General requests of citizens are one of the most important causes of internal developments in the countries and citizens of Yemen are no exception. Naturally, violent showdown is not the answer to the demands of the Yemeni people. It is certain that this approach will not yield any result other than migration, instability and insecurity in the strategically the most important communication channel in the region and the international order.
We believe that the urgent end to the bombing and negotiations between the Yemenis, with the participation of all ethnic groups and political parties in Yemen is the only way to solve the crisis in this country. This may be the beginning to prevent major damage and casualties, and ultimately the formation of a government of national unity.

ONASA: Can the modern conflicts in the Middle East be linked to religious intolerance between Shia and Sunni Muslims?

RAJABI: As I said earlier, pointing out Madhhabs’ differences as the cause of the outbreak of tension and war in the Middle East is nothing but a lie, because these Madhhabs for hundreds of years were living together and have not had any disagreements, and even now in the region continues this life among followers of different Madhhabs. Thus, induction of artificial and unreal differences and disagreements is part of the policy of those countries that have political and economic interests in this region. No religion suggests religious tolerance to the extent that Islam does. All religious renowned man and ulema constantly emphasize this important point. (end)