Rohani’s Trip and Its More Significant Sidelines

14 September 2013 | 18:39 Code : 1921367 Interview General category
Excerpts of an interview with Hassan Beheshti Pour, an analyst of international affairs
Rohani’s Trip and Its More Significant Sidelines

Hassan Rohani recently traveled to Bishkek to take part in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO looks to play a more influential role in Afghanistan after US and NATO forces leave this country. The Iranian President’s presence in this meeting has been deemed significant by all partied involved. Iranian Diplomacy spoke with Hassan Beheshti Pour, an analyst of international affairs, about the functionality of the SCO and the importance of Hassan Rohani’s participation.

What is the significance of the Shanghai Summit and what are its functions in general?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a regional organization which found significance following the collapse of the bipolar world. In other words, there were two eastern and western blocs in the past with the Warsaw Pact against NATO and Comecon against the European Common Market. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bipolar world and the inclination towards a multi-polar system, regional organizations found more significance. This means that the European Union expanded. ASEAN in Southeast Asia and NAFTA in North America, between the US, Canada, and Mexico, also grew rapidly. Changes were also made in NATO and new members joined this pact, increasing the number of its member countries to 28. When the SCO was established in 1996, it was a treaty as well, but in 2001, it was transformed into an organization. This organization is not only economic, but it also includes security, political and economic fields. Iran intends to use this atmosphere in order to be able to participate in regional pacts.

Iran is an observing member of the SCO. Has Iran submitted any request during this time to become a permanent member?

Efforts were made during Ahmadinejad’s presidency with regard to this matter, but unfortunately to no avail, because there was opposition to this move. It seems that, at the present time, the President is in no hurry to join this organization because Iran should be able to promote its international status to a level where they would ask Iran to join it. Joining this organization in this form will not fulfill Iran’s demands and provide its national interests. Therefore, it seems that, under the present conditions, Iran participates in these summits as an observer and uses this opportunity to meet with heads of state. Time is needed for Iran’s membership in this organization so that they would invite Iran to become a member.

Considering the importance of the presence of the Iranian President in this summit, would you explain the activities of the former president in these summits and the proposals that were made?

Ahmadinejad would use this opportunity to hold bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the participating heads of state. He also made repeated proposals, which were never welcomed by the members because they were not compatible with the real needs of the SCO and were too idealistic. When a country is present inside an organization, it must submit plans which would be attractive for the member countries, not proposals which would only safeguard the ideals of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thus, these plans have not been welcomed and it can even be said that none of them have been enforced.

It seems that Hassan Rohani intended to evaluate the conditions during this visit. He also used this opportunity to meet with the presidents of Russia and China. Rohani’s presence in this summit is an introduction to further participation and activity in these areas.

In general, what are the issues that are discussed in this summit?

The issues which are discussed in the Shanghai Summit include security issues such as fighting against terrorism and religious radicalism. There are political issues as well including the promotion of cooperation between the countries against US unilateralism. Of course, they don’t make anti-American propaganda, but they rather attempt to show the US that it cannot do whatever it wants by itself in the world. The issue of Syria is one of the issues which were discussed in this summit and a common decision was made with regard to the solution to this crisis. Pursuing economic issues is another matter of discussion. Issues like how to promote economic cooperation between the member countries and the level of cooperation are also talked about.

In the end, it must be said that the meetings held on the sidelines are very important. Due to the crisis in Syria and Iran’s nuclear issue and the economic relations that exist between Iran, China, India, and Pakistan, the opportunity that existed for these talks was very valuable.

tags: iran shanghai sco rohani russia china