Excerpts of the message of Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Foreign Minister, to the Conference of Commemorating National Day of the Persian Gulf, held on Sunday at the Institute for Political and International Studies of the Foreign Ministry.
“The sensitive and strategic situation of the Persian Gulf region, and its geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economical aspects, have special importance and priority in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I would like to reiterate this fact that, on many occasions, negative and positive consequences of international developments are visible in this sensitive and important region, and reciprocally, any of our developments in this region will have a reflection proportionate with its nature in the international scene.
“ This point leads us to this fact that, although energy sources and its geographic situation has rendered special importance to this region, for us it is not only a place to achieve economic interests, but rather more important than that it is the place of growth and pride of old and common values of the region. Therefore, our efforts should be directed towards multilateral development and progress and, most important of all, showing our special and undeniable identity and place in the international scene.
“Today, due to the awareness of the Islamic nation, the ground is prepared for the Muslim people of the region to seriously follow their political and social demands-- which, due to certain policies, have been silenced for years-- in a peaceful manner at the public level and within the framework of Islamic beliefs. Reciprocally, the neighboring countries and international community are following the behavior of these governments regarding their responses to these demands.
“Right now, in confronting the wave of justice-seeking and struggles against dictatorship, some have tried to overcome their internal problems by resorting to military power and security approaches. But there is no doubt that artificial measures and, worse than that, making efforts to enforce them with the help of military and security forces not only will have serious consequences, but will also endanger security in this region and stability in other regions. “
“What we see today in the Middle East and in North Africa are double standards and selective behavior with regard to the people’s peace-seeking movements. On one hand, we see support for traditional beliefs based on welcoming foreign military forces in the framework of violence and suppression of people’s protest for the resolution of domestic issues, and on the other, we hear support for democracy and freedom.”
“Correct responses to nations’ legal demands, apart from being necessary and crucial, are in fact a sort of respect to their human dignity. It is also the best way to manage problems and it can lead to the continuation of stability and security in the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always emphasized that any real changes must be made from inside the countries themselves.”
“For many years, the Persian Gulf region has been faced with challenges, such as progress in the arms race, prioritizing of military issues and military action, obvious ignorance with respect to the important role of some regional countries in security, creation of fear between countries, the existence of foreign military bases in the region, and efforts to attract organizations from outside the region, such as NATO, to play a role in regional issues. This is while we believe that common points and convergence between regional countries, such as cultural, historical, and religious similarities, geographical proximity, tribal and blood bonds, and economic interests, can prepare the grounds for total cooperation between regional countries, especially security cooperation, and development of this cooperation can solve many of the challenges mentioned. This type of solution can prepare the grounds for the establishment of an advisory and political framework in all aspects which can deal with serious security and political problems at national, regional, and international levels, in the present and future, by relying on the power of local management and governance.”
“It is our belief that the only path to glory for countries and nations of the region is through the acceptance of clear and undeniable historical realities, attention to the unique role of the people, distance from superpowers, placement in the circle of security, economic, political, and military cooperation in the region, and using one another’s relative facilities and advantages in order to achieve total self-reliance and independence from foreigners.”
“One of the obstacles that have always stood in the way of convergence of regional countries has been divisive efforts by powers outside the region to disrupt relations and cooperation between countries in the region. Powers outside the region have used this method especially to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, and destroying Iran’s relations with its neighbors has always seriously been on their agenda. Made-up scenarios that we have seen in the past few months are examples of these efforts, but they are certainly doomed to fail.”
“From the perspective of the Islamic Republic of Iran, providing security in the Persian Gulf region by the countries surrounding it is a realistic fact that all countries in the region must responsibly play an essential role in. Experience has also shown that security in the Persian Gulf cannot be achieved through one-sided, one-dimensional efforts and in the framework of only security cooperation. An acceptable plan with the possibility of being carried out is one that has a wide and complete definition of security and has the basic elements of economic, trade, cultural, and social cooperation.”
“Finally, we can say that the Persian Gulf is home to all of us, and countries on its northern and southern shores are its permanent residents and neighbors, so they have to accept the fact that geographical realities and proximity are unchangeable, and peaceful and brotherly cohabitation is an undeniable necessity.”