Zarif urges Europe to help re­solve Per­sian Gulf con­flicts

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

TEHRAN — Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter on Mon­day called on Europe to get in­volved in Per­sian Gulf con­flicts more se­ri­ously, cit­ing the pos­i­tive role it played in a nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and six world pow­ers.

“Europe has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and val­ues to help re­solve Per­sian Gulf con­flicts,” Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said in an ad­dress to the Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions (ECFR) in Ber­lin.

“With the nu­clear is­sue we had a lose-lose game with the U.S. un­til we re­de­fined the prob­lem with Europe’s ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion,” the Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter added.

Europe played a key role in bro­ker­ing the 2015 in­ter­na­tional nu­clear deal, which re­moved all nu­clear-re­lated sanc­tions against Iran in ex­change for Tehran plac­ing lim­its on its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties.

The nu­clear ac­cord re­sulted from “pos­i­tive-sum think­ing”, Zarif high­lighted, not­ing that it was triumph for ev­ery­one.

“The nu­clear deal be­tween Tehran and world pow­ers worked be­cause it was a vic­tory for all. We must re­mem­ber the im­por­tance of pos­i­tive-sum think­ing,” he went on to say.

De­spite a ve­he­ment, hos­tile attitude from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to­ward the nu­clear deal, the Euro­pean Union has fully backed it, keep­ing reg­u­lar ses­sion be­tween sig­na­to­ries to as­sure the deal’s planned im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Tehran’s ex­pec­ta­tions to re­build its slug­gish econ­omy at the wake of the deal, how­ever, have failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize fully, par­tially due to the re­gion’s tur­bu­lent sit­u­a­tion.

Since the con­clu­sion of the nu­clear deal, Saudi Ara­bia has in­ten­si­fied its hos­til­ity with Tehran, fear­ing a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Iran and the Euro­pean Union and the flour­ish­ing of the Ira­nian econ­omy.

“We have to aban­don delu­sions of zero-sum for­eign pol­icy, that geog­ra­phy can be changed, and that we can over­come our neigh­bours,” Zarif noted, an im­plicit ref­er­ence to anti-Iran poli­cies of the Saudi king­dom.

Europe can bro­ker ‘re­gional se­cu­rity frame­work’ in Med­dle East

The Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter fur­ther called for re­gional se­cu­rity or­der in the wider Per­sian Gulf re­gion.

“Our re­gion needs a re­gional se­cu­rity frame­work. Europe should work on es­tab­lish­ing such a frame­work,” he added.

“We need a Per­sian Gulf re­gional se­cu­rity fo­rum to pro­mote di­a­logue over de­mo­niza­tion.”

Zarif fur­ther pointed to the coun­tries who claimed that Iran and Qatar were sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism, say­ing they were try­ing to shun re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own fail­ures in ad­dress­ing the de­mands of their own peo­ple.

“One day it’s Iran, to­day it’s Qatar,” Zarif said, adding, “It’s an at­tempt to evade re­spon­si­bil­ity, es­cape ac­count­abil­ity for this very fun­da­men­tal … fail­ure of the state sys­tem to ad­dress, to re­spond to the de­mands of its pop­u­la­tion.”

In mak­ing the com­ments, Zarif was re­fer­ring to Saudi Ara­bia, joined by the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt sev­er­ing all po­lit­i­cal ties with Qatar on June 5, cit­ing Doha’s sup­port for the Pales­tinian Ha­mas re­sis­tance group and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as well as good ties with Iran.

Ear­lier on Fri­day, re­ports emerged that the Saudi-led bloc had given Qatar 10 days to com­ply with 13 de­mands, which in­cluded shut­ting down the Al Jazeera Me­dia Net­work, clos­ing a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base and scal­ing down ties with Iran.

The for­eign min­is­ter said no one can pur­chase its se­cu­rity from out­side, and that for­eign pol­icy is not a com­mod­ity.

Also, in a ref­er­ence to the hefty May arms deals be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and the U.S. dur­ing President Trump’s visit to the coun­try, the top diplo­mat said: “Arms deals are not part­ner­ships. […] Too many are af­flicted by the mis­con­cep­tion that se­cu­rity can be pur­chased.”

“When for­eign pol­icy be­comes a com­mod­ity, then pur­chas­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment be­comes your yard­stick for mea­sur­ing who is a ter­ror­ist or who isn’t a ter­ror­ist,” the Ira­nian min­is­ter added.

Zarif went on to say that the blame game pro­moted by Saudi Ara­bia is very much sim­i­lar to that pro­moted by the ISIS ter­ror­ist group.

“Per­sonal hope is the cru­cial in­gre­di­ent for so­cial and in­ter­na­tional sta­bil­ity. Hope­less­ness leads to hate,” he added.

The coun­tries in the Mid­dle East have failed to ad­dress needs of pop­u­lace to par­tic­i­pate in na­tional life, and this leads to vi­o­lent re­ac­tion of the youth, the top diplo­mat noted.

Mid­dle East and North Africa re­gion suf­fer from struc­tural prob­lems, in­clud­ing asym­me­try in size, wealth, pop­u­la­tion, Zarif said.

“The dis­course of hate and dis­course of ex­clu­sion in our re­gion can be ex­ported world­wide cre­at­ing dis­as­ter be­yond what you imag­ine,” he stressed.

When for­eign pol­icy be­comes a com­mod­ity, then pur­chas­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment be­comes your yard­stick for mea­sur­ing who is a ter­ror­ist or who isn’t a ter­ror­ist.

For­eign Min­is­ter Zarif ad­dresses the Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions (ECFR) in Ber­lin on June 26, 2017.

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