Neighborliness, Asianism, Islamic Countries, and Promoting Multilateralism

Opening Speech

The historical and beautiful city of Istanbul has long been known as the bridge connecting the West and the East, and I hope that the current event will help to better understanding the two sides of the Bosporus Strait in order to reach a prosperous and developed region. ...

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to speak at a gathering of high authorities, scholars, academics, writers and journalist on a very important event. Also, let me thank TASAM Institute and the organizers of this important meeting for holding this and also for inviting me.

The historical and beautiful city of Istanbul has long been known as the bridge connecting the West and the East, and I hope that the current event will help to better understanding the two sides of the Bosporus Strait in order to reach a prosperous and developed region.

Since last year's meeting, our region has witnessed important developments. Although the war in Ukraine is the most important one, it should not divert our attention from other important developments: from continued dominance of the Taliban in Afghanistan to the ongoing tensions in the Caucasus, and from the consequences of American forces withdrawal from the region to other political developments in Yemen and Palestine in other parts of the world. What is needed more than ever in this chaotic situation today is the issue of "security" and its requirements. Therefore, the importance of meetings such as the “Istanbul Security Conference“ has definitely augmented since last year, and new conceptualizations are needed more than ever. Expanding the concept of cooperation and neighborhood, which I interpret as "neighborliness", is one of these new understandings.

For a long time, achieving "security" has been defined along with understanding the requirements of good neighboring and cooperation between bordering countries. For this purpose, the neighboring countries should reach the common belief that we are neighbors forever and security will be achieved only through the mutual trust, counting on national capabilities, strengthening cooperation and not relying on foreign powers. However, the concept of neighborhood should not be limited to bordering countries and geographical proximity. In this new sense, neighbors may not be geographically bordered. If we accept this idea, we must define other characteristics for the neighborhood besides geography. In this new concept, Europe, along with Afghanistan and the countries of the Persian Gulf, is considered a distant neighbor for Iran and other countries in the region, and based on that, positive interactions can be initiated between the two sides.

Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy is based on pillars such as "neighborliness", "Asianism", "expansion of relations with all countries of the world, particularly Islamic countries“ and “promoting multilateralism versus unilateralism“. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always emphasized the realization of peace through intra-regional dialogue and hopes that with the commitment of all countries in the region to multilateralism, the necessary ground for creating a new security structure in the Persian Gulf area can be provided.

In this regard and contrary to false propaganda, since the first day of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Iran has declared itself an "active neutral“ actor in this war, and has expressed deep concern over the increasing tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Iran has also continuously invited the parties to resolve their problems through dialogue and peaceful means. In this context, the claim of sending weaponries and drones to one of the two sides of this war is a baseless claim. Since Iran considers Russia and Ukraine as its neighbors based on the logic of "neighborliness", considers the continuation of the war very dangerous for its security and the security of the region.

Regarding the JCPOA, today more than 5 years have passed since the illegal withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and the act of economic terrorism by the US against Iranian nation, along with the inaction of three European countries. During the last year and a half, the new government of Iran has participated with seriousness, goodwill and by presenting numerous initiatives to achieve a good agreement. What Iran has been asking for has been fair and reasonable: the lift of all sanctions, verification and the provision of necessary guarantees in adherence to their commitments. However, the dishonest games of the western side and especially the Americans have prevented a good agreement. Despite this, we emphasize once again that we are ready to reach a good deal in the shortest possible time, if that the other side is ready to make the necessary political decisions.

Another tragic issue in recent years is the continuation of the long war and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen. We still believe that the resolution of the Yemeni crisis is possible by playing the crucial role of the United Nations and respecting the will of the Yemeni people in the framework of the Yemeni-Yemeni dialogues. This is also a human duty of the world community. The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to strongly support the establishment of peace and stability in Yemen and will not give up any efforts in this direction.

Regarding Afghanistan, we are still concerned about the continuation of violence and terrorism, as well as the development of ISIS activities in this country. The current situation in Afghanistan is a product of the military occupation and the policies of the United States over the past twenty years. We always stand by the people of Afghanistan. Iran's government and NGOs continue to send humanitarian aid and fuel to the people of Afghanistan. The current Afghan refugees has put a heavy burden on our country and other neighboring countries, and the active participation of institutions and the international community is necessary to send humanitarian aid. We believe that the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the presence of all political and ethnic groups in that country is absolutely necessary to achieve peace and stability.

Regarding Palestine, as the most important symbol of injustice and the driver of continued violence in the Middle East, we still believe that holding a referendum among the original residents of Palestine, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, is the best solution. This solution has been registered in the United Nations and will allow the Palestinian people to decide their fate and future.

Regarding some recent unrest in a few Iranian cities, the Islamic Republic of Iran declares that it considers civil protests to be the right of its people. However, while criticizing the three European countries and the United States for inciting and magnifying these protests, Iran will not allow the intervention of foreign countries to turn these protests into street riots and insecurity. The great people of Iran started their revolution with the slogan of independence, freedom and Islamic Republic more than four decades ago. In this new model of religious democracy, Islamic Republic of Iran while holding more than forty general elections with high popular participation, they have always tried to fulfill the civil demands of the people within the framework of the constitution.

In the end, once again, I would like to thank the organizers of this important conference and wish success to all of you who participated in this event.

( Dr. Mohammad Hassan SHEIKHOLESLAMI, Deputy Foreign Minister, Iran | Opening Speech Transcript | 8th Istanbul Security Conference | 03 November 2022 )

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