Italianieuropei visits Iran

Written by Italianieuropei Friday, 24 January 2014 17:37 Print

A couple of days before Italy’s Foreign Minister Emma Bonino’s mission to Iran – the first visit by a Western minister since the outbreak of the nuclear crisis about ten years ago – the Fondazione Italianieuropei, in delegation with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and their president Massimo D’Alema visited the Islamic Republic.

A brief but intense visit, during which the delegation had high-level meetings with Teheran political establishment, participated to a conference at the prestigious Institute for Political and International Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and met representatives of Iranian civil society.

Only 48 hours to breathe the air of change that is blowing through the streets of Teheran, or – it would be more correct to say – in Teheran’s “control rooms”. The political personalities we met – the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the deputy-minister for Europe and America, MajidTakht Ravanchi – made an effort to send two clear messages: last spring Iranian people have chosen to change and have voted Hassan Rouhani to obtain change, and given this, it is now time for the international community to grant some trust to Iran. Undoubtedly the language of the Iranian policymakers has softened compared to only a few months ago, when President Ahmadinejad’s crude words added fuel to the already burning relations with the Western countries. However, a lot remain to be proved to fully lift the sanctions (the temporary agreement with Teheran entered into force on Monday 20th of January after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s compliance with their commitments) and some issues remain difficult to discuss.

If the word “Israel” has now and then replaced the long preferred expression “Zionist country”, the question of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, of the tragic situation of the Palestinian people, and of the future Palestinian state is still a “mine field” hard to cross (this despite the fact that the Iranian government has in many occasions declared its willingness to support whatever agreement is acceptable for the Palestinian people, including the much loathed two-state solution). Yet, even if divergences are still wide, looking at the wider regional context, an overlapping of interests seems to be indeed possible. Iranian authorities look with concern at developments in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan (where the ISAF troops will withdraw by the end of 2014 leaving behind a still complex situation), and, in spite of the different points of view, normalization of the area is a goal for the US and Europe as much as it is for the Islamic Republic. And Iran could – and policymakers in Teheran are fully aware of this – play a key role here.

Obstacles are on the way to stop the current negotiations, which should in six-month time take to a final agreement on the nuclear issue. Both in the US and in Iran. And indeed beyond the borders of these two countries. But the new Iran administration seems to be willing to take the risk.

 

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