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Interview

VISIT BY AMBASSADOR OF ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN IN BIH MAHMOUD HEIDARI

 

VISIT BY AMBASSADOR OF ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN IN BIH MAHMOUD HEIDARI

 

Interviewed by: Emina OSMANBEGOVIĆ

SARAJEVO, April 10 (ONASA) – The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in BiH Mahmoud Heidari in an interview for the Agency ONASA, among other things, speaks about the economic and political cooperation of BiH and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, the repealed sanctions on the nuclear program, the oil market …

ONASA: How do you see the political situation in the region of Balkans and BiH, what is the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in this regard?

HEIDARI:We believe that the Balkans needs stability and development, and this cannot be done except in the light of the convergence and cooperation of all peoples and governments in the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran, thus supports peace, stability and development of the Balkans and in this direction aims to establish a useful and constructive relations with all countries of the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran, on that basis, after decomposition of the former Yugoslavia and changes in government structures in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, was among the first countries that recognized the new states in the region and initiated the establishment of political, economic and cultural ties with the Balkan states, and opening embassies in regional countries showed determination and will, based on the expansion of cooperation.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was among the first countries to officially recognize the independence of BiH, it has always been with the people and authorities of BiH, during the war sent humanitarian aid to the people, and then helped the returning of refugees and the reconstruction of destroyed buildings. Iran, supporting the people of BiH, protected the independence, territorial integrity and peaceful coexistence of all people in this country. We believe that the strengthening of relations between Iran and BiH, too, can be effective even in terms of improving regional relations of the Balkans and the Middle East.

ONASA: How do you assess the cultural and educational cooperation between Iran and BiH with regard to the activities of the Cultural Center of Iran and the Institute of Ibn Sina and how can it be improved?

 

HEIDARI: Many affinities and similarities of the people of Iran and BiH in culture, language, customs, traditions, manuscripts in Persian language in the Bosnian libraries, cultural and artistic resources, history of formal teaching and learning of the Persian language in BiH, as well as the presence of a number of Bosnian students in Iran are only a part of the cultural community of the two countries. In recent years, the two countries signed an agreement on cultural, scientific and research cooperation, twining Tehran and Sarajevo in 2016, which is a valuable cultural event for the two countries.
Iranian institutions, including the Cultural Center of the Islamic Republic of Iran, organizing film Week, Week of Culture of Iran, a number of art exhibitions, the presence of Iranian artists, and concerts of traditional music, make efforts in improving the cultural cooperation between the two countries. However, I believe that in this area we have a lot of unused capacity that should be used to deepen the relationship, thereby accentuating the expansion of cooperation between artistic and scientific centers of the two countries.

ONASA: How do you see the economic cooperation between BiH and Iran?

 

HEIDARI: Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sarajevo is determined to follow in every way to help the process of development and strengthening of economic relations in various economic sectors, including the private sector and I believe that Iran and BiH have high capacities for all-round development of relations and that there is a political will by Iranian and BiH officials for their activation.
After the independence of BiH, the two countries have signed several economic agreements in the fields of commerce, banking, joint investment, transport, cooperation between chambers of commerce and others, and before sanctions BiH businessmen were among the exporters of goods to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and trade between the two countries at that time reached a great level. Unfortunately, after the implementation of sanctions, these relations have drastically fallen, and Iranian companies due to restrictions caused, were forced to replace the Bosnian products with those from other countries. The situation has changed and, fortunately, after an agreement between Iran and 5+1 countries, we are witnesses of a large presence of European, Asian and even American companies, on 80 million market of Iran. Even after abolition of sanctions, BiH companies are still not present in the market of Iran. I hope we will, as soon as possible, with solving some problems and obstacles, witness the presence and effective activities of BiH companies in the market of Iran. In addition to investment allowances Iranian companies are ready to participate in the economic and investment projects BiH. Signing of the Memorandum on cooperation of small and large enterprises of the two countries during last year’s visit of then Chairman of the BiH Presidency Bakir Izetbegović, travel of numerous business delegations, including the delegation of the private sector in Tuzla and Tešanj are significant steps to improve relations. There are numerous capacities for economic cooperation of Iran and BiH, especially in the field of tourism, agriculture, energy, various industrial branch, petrochemical and industrial vehicle parts and I believe that the media can lighten up the present capacity thus contributing to the development of better communication and cooperation, which will ultimately be of benefit to the citizens and peoples of the two countries.

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ONASA: What is the role of Iran in the fight against ISIL?

 

HEIDARI: Today more than ever before in the region and the world we feel a great threat of terrorism, a large population of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are displaced as refugees, and their homes are destroyed. The Islamic Republic of Iran has, from the beginning of the appearance of radical movements in the region, warned that the use of terrorist groups and promoting extremist ideas in the Middle East have major and serious consequences for the whole world. Today, after a brutal crimes by ISIL, there are streams of refugees and terrorist attacks in some European countries, they all say that they want to destroy extremism and there is no doubt that the Takfir ideology and extremism are doomed. Terrorism and extremism have no boundaries and are evident as the two major problems for the entire world, including the Balkans and BiH.
There is no solution except temperance, preserving borders, respect for the independence of the country and sincere cooperation for the establishment of stability and peace in the world. The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a country leader in the practical and serious fight against terrorism, will make every effort to combat this scourge, is ready to support the opposition to extremism in all areas and their experience to share with friendly countries, and this willingness was expressed during the last meeting with high BiH officials.

ONASA: Do you have an accurate assessment of the Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East?

 

HEIDARI: The attitude of the Islamic Republic of Iran in foreign policy has never been ethnic and tribal, never promoted nationalism and sectarianism, but the Islamic world sees and recognizes the parts of one body, holds all Muslims as the brothers, and in this brotherhood it and no racial difference is allowed, Persians, Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis.
Iran every year, with the presence of religious leaders from around the world, organizes a number of international conferences for the purpose of approaching persuasions at the last Conference of Islamic Unity, held in December 2016, the President of Iran, calling all Muslims to unity and brotherhood in the light of the teachings of the Islam Prophet Islam (s.a.v.s.), repeated that “the Shia crescent and the Sunni triangle are wrong, that the Shiites and Sunnis are brothers, followers of Islam and the Prophet”.
The foreign policy of Iran is always reflected in the friendship and integration of Muslims, and access to the foreign policy of Iran towards the Sunni Muslims of Palestine and other Islamic countries is an indication of this fact. Utterance of extremist ideas, terrorist acts and megalomaniac policies that cover and encourage dispute of Shiites and Sunnis, are unacceptable and unrealistic.

ONASA: What is the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the issue of the future of Palestine, how does it see a solution to this crisis?

HEIDARI: As the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran said, Iran’s plan for resolution of the issue of Palestine and its future is clear and logical, the first phase is the return and participation of all displaced Palestinians in determining the future of Palestine. I am sure that the people of BiH, which has felt the bitterness of war, more than anyone in the world knows what forced expulsion, displacement and return means. The second phase involves a referendum vote of all Palestinians, Muslims, Jews and Christians, on the future of the occupied country. In fact, the Palestinian people, on democratic principles, must decide on the future of Palestine, and immigrant settlements and additional pressures on the Palestinian people are an unforgettable violence and oppression on which history will not have a positive judgment and which is doomed to failure.

ONASA: What is your assessment of future nuclear agreements with regard to the new American administration and the presidential term of Donald Trump?

 

HEIDARI: Comprehensive Agreement is an international agreement which is attached to the Resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations, is not therefore a bilateral agreement between Iran and America, which would be subject to change with the change in the US government. Iran is fully consistent in implementing the commitments, which was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and therefore has the right to expect from other parties to meet their obligations. Unfortunately, with some forces, participants in negotiations, the delay in meeting its obligations is evident. Iran committed to the implementation of the Agreement, but will not be indifferent to its violation.

ONASA: What is the situation in the automotive industry of Iran after abolishing of sanctions?

 

HEIDARI: Iran owns the largest automotive industry in the Middle East, this industry, with a share of 10 percent in the GDP, is the second largest economic sector of Iran, after oil and gas. This industry in the last 15 years for Iran had priority, even in times of sanctions (2014) more than one million cars was produced, and it is expected that, after the nuclear agreement, by 2020 production of cars will amount to almost two million, respectively by 2029 six million cars a year. This means a great need to develop the industry of car parts which ultimately represents an opportunity for the presence and engagement of companies that have experience in this field. Company Peugeot, Citroen and Renault are companies that first reacted in this sector, and in the first opportunity after abolition of sanctions, entered into the market of Iran and signed contracts worth tens of millions of euros.

ONASA: How do you assess the agreement of OPEC in December last year to cut the share and the production of Iran?

 

HEIDARI: Economy of Iran, among oil-exporting countries, has a particularly important place. On gas reserves Iran ranks first and on the fourth place in oil reserves in the world (confirmed oil reserves of more than 157 billion barrels proven reserves of gas in 1201 trillion cubic meters). After signing a nuclear agreement Iran wants to quickly take advantage of its enormous reserves of natural gas, in order to be transformed into an important exporter of gas in the world. It is expected that implementation of the plans in this area, the markets of neighboring countries and even Europe, will become the most important consumers of Iran’s natural gas. Member states of OPEC at 171 regular session for the first time since 2008 reached a consensus and agreement on the reduction of crude oil production.The production of 1.2 million barrels is a daily agreed production in six months in 2017, while Member States have agreed with Iran’s daily production of 3.9 million barrels of crude oil, which is almost equivalent to a daily production of Iran before the sanctions. OPEC members confirmed that even in difficult conditions can make important decisions and play an important role in the energy market of the world. I believe that, when the price of oil is low, the attractiveness of investing in projects in the oil industry of Iran is going to be more pronounced, and the new model of Iran’s oil contracts is ready and foreign partners in the new format are included in the oil industry of Iran. (end)