Rohani’s Diplomatic Approach

09 August 2013 | 05:08 Code : 1919673 Interview General category
An interview with Dr. Ali Bigdeli, a university professor and foreign policy affairs analyst
Rohani’s Diplomatic Approach

What is your assessment of Mr. Rohani’s recent press conference?

I believe what struck everyone first in the press conference was the literature that he used. In order to enter the atmosphere of diplomacy, one must first have a diplomatic approach. In today’s world, where the world media form public opinion, diplomatic behavior and literature is very important. In the past, these issues were not as significant as they are today and it was possible for some leaders to be able to succeed in the international scene without the proper literature or behavior. But today, eloquence and appropriate behaviors are very effective. A look at the western leaders shows that one of the most important criteria for the election of the leaders of these countries is their behavior and literature. Unfortunately, the absence of such an approach during the past few years has had negative impacts on our foreign policy. Non-observance of certain points in using improper words led to the formation of a wave of negative propaganda against Iran. Diplomatic regulations prevent us from saying whatever we want and force us to defend every phrase and every word that we use. Therefore, in my opinion, one of the differences between the current and former presidents is their literature. For example, the phrase used by Mr. Ahmadinejad rejecting the UN Security Council and its resolutions had very bad effects all around the world. A US congressman once even said that most of the sanctions against Iran had been imposed due to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s wording.

Therefore, the first point which can be analyzed in Mr. Rohani’s recent press conference and his previous positions is that he utilizes an appropriate diplomatic approach. The West has also accepted that Mr. Rohani has diplomatic manners and considers him as a diplomatic clergyman who has enough experience in this regard. This is the key to enter the international scene.

Besides this point, how would you assess the content of his press conference?

His statements with regard to Iran-US relations are important. He has mentioned that Iran does not need any introduction for negotiations with the US and if Iran finds its interests in doing so, it will do so. But he also pointed out that the practical response, and not the statements, of the US is very significant for Iran. He said that Iran will carefully study all measures taken by the US and will give a proper and similar response to any practical, constructive, and meaningful measure which the US would take. Thus, this is a message to the US so that it would take practical measures to get closer to Iran. At the same time, Mr. Rohani stated that measures such as the adoption of new sanctions by the US indicate the contradictory behavior of this country caused by the non-comprehension of the message of the Iranian people in the recent election.

Therefore, can one hope that such positions would lead to the improvement of relations between Iran and the US?

Today, Iran and the US are on the two sides of one common line. We say that the US must change its behavior and the US expresses the same demand. It is not clear what each side wants. In order to break this vicious circle and get closer to a practical agreement, a semi-official meeting between the officials of both countries must take place. We must state in this meeting our demands from the US and in exchange the US must also express its demands from Iran. At the present time, Rohani’s diplomacy is based on the exchange of words, but this is not sufficient. We must explicitly state our expectations from the other side. Hence, the pre-requisite to be able to break the wall of mistrust between Iran and the US is a meeting wherein both sides could clearly express their red lines and demands. At the same time, the domestic atmosphere for such an agreement must be prepared so that no one could change the desired atmosphere of negotiation. Furthermore, taking small measures can also be effective. Negotiation must not start with macro-issues. For example, the unfreezing of Iran’s assets in the US can be an effective measure for confidence-building. Under the shadow of these small steps, one can hope that the atmosphere between Iran and US would be improved.

In the press conference, Mr. Rohani stated that after the selection of the negotiating team with the P5+1, this negotiation will begin. To what extent, in your opinion, will these negotiations be able to progress?

Mr. Rohani said that we will have more serious and frank discussions with the P5+1. This is very important. Nevertheless, negotiation must not be done only for the sake of negotiation. It should take place to solve the problem. He also mentioned that the government pursues the resolution of the nuclear issue. Therefore, I believe that there is the possibility of progress in P5+1 negotiations, but we must first make progress in our talks with the IAEA.

What do you mean by making progress with the IAEA?

Mr. Rohani stated in his campaign that he will create transparency in the nuclear issue. Iran and the IAEA have, since long ago, had differences with regard to visits to some nuclear and military centers in Iran. It seems that taking transparent measures could mean the resolution of this issue. Perhaps the issuance of permits for IAEA inspectors to visit Parchin would be effective in this regard and could be considered as a practical and constructive step.

How would you assess Mr. Rohani’s team, particularly the nominated minister?

Look, you might have all the necessary tools for carpentry but might not be able to build a table. Dr. Zarif is a prominent and capable personality in the area of foreign policy. He has a very good outlook of Iran’s international problems and is well-known in the US. His negotiating capability is also high. He is certainly one of the best choices for this position. But how much authority he would have to make progress in negotiations is unclear right now. The success of Mr. Rohani and Zarif in solving the nuclear issue depends on domestic support from the system and the people for these negotiations. We hope that the collection of the domestic forces and high-ranking officials of Iran will lend their complete support to him so that the problems of Iran’s foreign policy could be solved and so that people could benefit from such a development.

tags: iran rohani nuclear US p5+1 zarif iaea