Publishe Date: 2:20 PM - 7/30/2015 | Print

Fabius Visit and Iranian Hospitality

Politics - Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Kharazi
Iran's Former Ambassador to France

Laurent Fabius, foreign minister of the French socialist government, has arrived in the Iranian capital city of Tehran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and other high-ranking Iranian officials. From historical, civilizational and cultural viewpoints, track records of France in equations related to the foreign and domestic policies of Iran have been generally positive. However, since the 19th century up to the present day, every time that the governments of Iran and France have been able to expand their relations, a foreign element has played a role and stopped that process or deviated strategic relations between the two countries. The government of the great Britain or even the governments of Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union, tried to put a brake on the expansion of relations between governments in Tehran and Paris and historical documents show how they have been able through various conspiracies as well as overt and covert treachery to obstruct the course of the development of the two countries’ relations.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran and France playing host to Imam Khomeini marked another turning point for these two countries, which are significant states in terms of history and civilization, to reestablish strategic relations in political, historical, economic, and cultural terms. However, a set of undesirable developments in Tehran-Paris relations, including the support of the French government for former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, in his imposed war against Iran, and strategic conflicts between the French governments of former presidents, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and François Mitterrand, caused the two countries to cut diplomatic relations with their embassies remaining closed up to the end of the war. Following the end of the imposed war, when the situation inside Iran raised expectations about a change in the two countries’ relations, some unfortunate incidents once again influenced relations between Tehran and Paris. Under the French government of Jacques Chirac, relations between Iran and French improved and new grounds were broken in terms of development of economic and trade relations as well as regional cooperation between the two sides. However, due to later political changes in Tehran and also in Paris, the two countries not only once again drifted away from each other, but France, which had previously offered the initiative of the dialogue between Iran and three European countries, started to increase its distance with Iran due to certain obstacles.

On the whole, every time that Iran and France decided to develop their relations or engage in strategic cooperation, the UK, Israel or the United States erected a serious obstacle on the way of the development of their relations. Now, we cannot remain frozen in our past history. Realism calls on us to pay attention to the existing capacities in the two countries and criticize all aspects of bilateral relations realistically and away from all kinds of Iranian and French sentimentalism. The important problem is that the French have put Iran in the same category with the Arab states of the Middle East and in view of the personal experience that I have gained in a juncture of my life, Iranians don’t like such categorization. Although we are part of the Middle East, Iran is the most important power in West Asia and the most important country in the Middle East and also the most important regional player. So, when they put Iran in the same category as the Arab countries of the region, it means that relations with Tehran is not a priority for Paris.

At present, Iran is the symbol of power and security in the region. The French people, who are in Tehran are the guests of us, Iranians, and from the viewpoint of cultural relations and hospitality traditions, it is not befitting of us to talk about bitterness and hardships of the past. On the opposite, the important point is to focus on the future; regional and global capacities; coexistence and development of political, international and regional relations; as well as development of bilateral relations in such areas as economy, technology, industry, trade, culture and education. The pleasant memories that the two countries have of each other outweigh the bitter ones. By providing suitable security grounds in the Middle East and entire region, we would be able to come up with a common Franco-Iranian model. We can also turn security problems in the region into opportunities through enhanced cooperation between Tehran and Paris. The crisis of terrorism is a bitter crisis which poses a threat to security of all humanity, because terrorism knows no race, religion and culture.

Terrorism is the manifestation of the current woes of international community. So, why it should seem that certain European governments have closed their eyes to international terrorism? All actions taken by such terrorist groups as Boko haram, ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization, are threats against humanity. From Baghdad to the Levant, and from Kabul to Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb, all such acts of terrorism are carried out by terrorist groups that are being supported by some governments. Is the French government aware that some of the military equipment it has supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has ended up in the hands of terrorists belonging to ISIS and al-Nusra Front? If the civilized and civilization-building government of France wants to leave a good name in the minds of children, women, as well as old men and women in this region, it must take a firm decision on global terrorism because this is also a foremost security threat to the French people as well.

Key Words: Iran, France, Laurent Fabius, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Tehran-Paris Relations, Sentimentalism, Hospitality, Middle East, Terrorism, Kharazi

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