Hopeful about Cooperation with Ahmadzai Administration
To what extent did foreign elements –the US- play a role in ending the deadlock of the run-off presidential elections in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan has had numerous ups and downs during its contemporary history, the last of which was the US attack after September 11th and the thirteen year presidency of Mr. Karzai. As a result of the election and the agreement that was reached, Hamed Karzai’s tenure as president ended and a new chapter began in the history of Afghanistan. This time the presidential election was simultaneous with two issues: first the US security agreement which the US demanded to be signed and which Mr. Karzai did not sign for any reason and gave the responsibility to the next government, and the other the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Therefore, the election was held during these two events.
Iran was also happy about the elections especially the first round. The run-off election was held well but following the election, certain provocative measures were taken which were not desirable and Afghanistan was faced with tensions. During this period, Iran proposed certain recommendations in order to maintain the stability, security and solidarity of Afghanistan. It can be said that the Islamic Republic of Iran succeeded in this regard. The US was mainly pursuing its own interests and attempted to contain the election despite the hands that were involved. Although the election was held with the people’s participation, it ultimately ended with a compromise and perhaps the result of the election was not that important. It seems that this compromise was the right one; because otherwise it is not clear what the outcome of the unstable political situation in Afghanistan would have been in a year when foreign forces are supposed to leave this country and the security agreement is to be signed. Nevertheless, the two candidates who enjoyed high votes – the number of which was not announced – compromised with each other and formed a cabinet. From this aspect, the election was good and a political compromise should have been made. The result of this election was important for us and it was done. The US was concerned about the result of the election, considering the two above-mentioned points, and was worried that it would lose control of the situation and the election would advance beyond their will. On this ground, the US entered the election scene and of course they gained what they were after. But this compromise was formed based on the political balance in Afghanistan.
What is Iran’s position with regard to the result of this election? What approach would Iran propose for the future of Afghanistan considering the promise of constitutional reform and finding a solution for the legal status of the head of the executive body?
Our demand is the participation of all forces in Afghanistan. This is based on the geographical, racial and linguistic situation of this country which would strengthen the government. We are not concerned about the methods and approaches. We do not propose any solution for the methods. What is important for us is that our requests be provided, in any form or shape.
How would you assess the future of relations between Iran and Afghanistan after Ahmadzai’s presidency?
Numerous meetings were held with Ahmadzai during the past three months. He has also shown great interest with regard to his country’s relations with Iran. It seems that anyone who heads the presidential palace has the same feeling towards Iran. This is due to Iran’s approach and also the reality of Iran’s status in the region. Right now three million Afghans live in Iran who send three billion dollars every year back to Afghanistan. The same amount of trade exists between the two countries. We are optimistic about the next administration in Afghanistan and believe that we will have cooperation in numerous fields.
Considering the fact that Mr. Karzai did not sign a security pact with Iran, what would Iran’s status be in security cooperation with Afghanistan?
A security pact was proposed at the end of Mr. Karzai’s presidential term. Naturally we consulted with each other many times but no agreement was reached. We even agreed on some parts of the text but it did not led to a pact being signed. Of course we did not intend to sign a ceremonial protocol. It was possible to sign the pact and Mr. Karzai was also interested in it. But we did not sign it so that better conditions would be provided for a stronger pact. We hope that these conditions are provided in the future government.
What will Iran’s position be if Afghanistan signs the security pact with the US?
This issue depends on the context of the pact. We still do not know everything about the text and we are waiting for it to be clarified in order to be able to express our opinion about it. Nonetheless, any pact which would lead to foreign forces remaining in Afghanistan and the stationing of bases for western forces would not be desirable for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
We are on the verge of a Caspian meeting. What will Iran’s positions be with regard to sea borders? Will Iran’s share of the Caspian Sea remain the same or return to that of 12 years ago?
This is the fourth summit of the five countries, to be held in Astrakhan this time. Numerous issues are discussed in this summit. It can be said that the fourth summit will be more complete compared with the first one which was held in Ashgabat and the spirit of solidarity, friendship and peace in the Caspian Sea region is higher. From this angle, the type of relations with Russia and the other four countries, in general, prepares good conditions. Therefore, in this summit the issue of division would not be discussed. The issues which will be discussed are related to the usage of this lake for all with regard to oil and gas resources, other resources, the prevention of unexpected events, ecological issues, water resources and meteorological matters and all affairs which are somehow related to this lake and its neighboring countries. Therefore, good agreements will be signed in this summit and we have not yet reached an issue about which the public opinion is sensitive about.
Right now, Russia is facing sanctions by the West, thus, it needs to provide its needs with other countries. To what extent could Iran provide Russia’s needs?
The gates of Russia have opened for us. Businessmen and the private sector have begun their task. I believe that a healthy, free and easy trade is forming in this region. Certainly, when the economy among the countries of the region is strengthened, the needs of all of us will be provided in the region. Therefore, Iran or Russia will not need to provide their needs from distant countries. Thus, the Russians will buy from us and Iran will buy from Russia. Exactly similar to what we do with the rest of the world. There is a determination which has been formed in both countries even before sanctions were imposed against Russia.
While Russia has signed sanction resolutions against Iran in cooperation with the international community, to what extent will Iran raise its cooperation with this country in order to provide its needs?
Part of the sanctions against Iran was adopted in the Security Council and Russia and China did not veto them. But both countries cooperated with us. It seems that Russia had cooperated with us with regard to what is related to the sanctions which were not adopted by the Security Council. At the present time, when other conditions have been provided and troubles have been created by the western countries and the US, the possibility of mutual cooperation will naturally increase and both countries will enter this path and its foundation is being provided.
What will Iran’s response be if Russia asks it to take positions with regard to the developments in Ukraine?
We have, hitherto, expressed our response. We were absent in the UN in the main part and with regard to other issues we have stated our principled positions to both parties. When the sanctions are illegal, we will consider them as such whether they are against us or against Russia. We have our principled position with regard to the territorial integrity of countries and recommend that both sides enter into dialogue. This is our principled position.
How is Iran’s view of Russia’s positions and has it proposed certain proposals to Russia with regard to the situation in Ukraine?
The situation of the scene has not allowed us to enter this issue. This has been a sort of competition between the Russians and the West. It seems that the time is not right for us to enter the issues of compromise. The atmosphere is not prepared for this task but we have maintained our relations while safeguarding our principles.
During the last year, the level of Iran’s relations with Azerbaijan has vastly increased in all aspects. What is the root of this expansion of cooperation?
Following the meeting held between Mr. Rohani and Mr. Ilham Aliyev in Davos, it was the art of diplomacy which attracted our northern neighbor. Step by step, we moved towards détente and growing cooperation and the programs of the next month are in line with this path. Therefore, it can be said that nothing has happened and only more wisdom has ruled the diplomacy of both parties.
What will Iran’s position be with regard to the issue of Karabakh, which Azerbaijan is faced with, while Iran has good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan?
We have always stressed negotiations and peace in order to remove tensions and a return to international borders. When we have practically acted as mediators, we have passed this path well. But since the time when this task was given to Minsk and we are not present, we only make general recommendations. We have watched the region and recommended that the situation not get out of hand and for tensions not to increase in order to be able to implement complete peace within the framework of the international laws at some juncture. At the present time, international powers which have been involved in this matter have failed to achieve serious results and it can be said that there was no green light for movement. Azerbaijan and Armenia do not control everything.
In his meeting with Iran’s Minister of Communications, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Industry has asked Iran to stop the import of Armenian products from regions in Azerbaijan’s territory which are occupied by Armenia. What is Iran’s position in this regard?
We have trade relations with both countries and we cannot distinguish the region of origin of these products. Therefore, we will be able to observe this demand whenever the origin is mentioned but otherwise we cannot do anything about it.
During recent days, Pakistan has been faced with domestic political developments. These developments are caused by popular protests against the government which are led by Imraan Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri. What is Iran’s view regarding the developments in Pakistan?
We are not happy about what is happening in Pakistan. We want power and welfare for the people of our neighboring and allied country. Unfortunately, there is an unstable situation in Pakistan since a long time ago. We hope that this situation, where the leaders of this country are assassinated by these radical groups, ends and a powerful government or a coalition, if necessary, is established so that we have a stable and calm country in our neighborhood. We hope that both the government and the opposition consider the general interests of the country more so that Pakistan remains a powerful and joyful Muslim country.