Iran and Central Eurasia: 25 Years after the Soviet Union (Panel II)

Date of publication : November 10, 2016 21:46 pm
Iran and Central Eurasia: 25 Years after the Soviet Union (Panel II)
Date: October 24, 2016
Time: 14:00 to 17:00 (GMT +3:30)
Venue: Center for International Conferences, Shahid Beheshti University (SBU) Tehran, Iran

In this event, the experts gave their opinions about Iran-Eurasia ties during the past two and half decades. The following is the excerpts of the comments in the second panel.

Abbas Maleki, PhD
Professor, Sharif University of Technology

“Apart from Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory which argued that Eurasia was the center of the world, it seems that nowadays we are witnessing an important issue, namely, the Eurasian Economic Union. The members of this union, under the leadership of Russia, are trying to start ambitious projects such as introducing a single currency for all the members of the Union. It is realistic for Iran to interfere in the situation to further its political goals.”
“In the past, countries like Iran and Russia were producers of natural gas while Europe and the United States were consumers of gas. But the current transition is that either the producers and consumers of energy have become one and the same or they have come closer to one another. For example countries like India, China and the countries in South-East Asia have come closer to being producers of energy.”

Esfandiar Omidbakhsh, PhD
Director General, Multilateral Relations of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture
“The current average tariff of the Eurasian Economic Union is 7.8% while that of Iran is 26%, therefore, should a Free Trade Agreement be signed by Iran and the Union, it is Iran that needs to lower its tariffs.”
“Among the advantages of such an agreement between Iran and the Union is the fact that 4 out of 5 members of the Union are part of the World Trade Organization.”
“Among the obstacles for lowering tariffs in Iran is that based on the law, the minimum tariff should be around 4% therefore the Iranian parliament should make a decision regarding the lowering of tariffs for the Free Trade Agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union.”

Mohsen Shariatinia, PhD
Assistant Professor of Regional Studies at Shahid Beheshti University (SBU)
“China’s path of empowerment, which continues to this day, has been based on an economic forefront. Except in East of Asia, China has not used other methods to exert it power.”
“Although China is well known for its economic prowess, it does increasingly worse in the other areas such as politics, security and the military. China has a long path ahead of itself to becoming a postmodern power.”
“The Chinese are starting to exert political pressure using their economic prowess in the form of economic sanctions that they place on some countries. China is increasing its participation in global administration. Such a power is sure to influence different regions of the world.”
“China in today’s world is noteworthy as the Chinese are introducing innovations to solving some of world’s challenges and this is certain to have impacts in the future.”

Hamidreza Azizi, PhD
Assistant Professor of Regional Studies at Shahid Beheshti University (SBU); Senior Expert at IRAS
“The appropriate conditions for Iran’s expansion of economic ties with Central Asia and the Caucasus has been possible due to the following reasons: the particular regional structure present in the countries that were once part of the Former Soviet Union, the practical and economic-based approach in Iran’s foreign policy, the United States’ limited role in comparison with other regional players, and also cultural factors. These are the reasons Iran can be hopeful of investment and expansion of ties with Eurasian countries.”
“To continue the expansion of ties Iran can use methods like cultural solutions based on diplomacy, economic solutions based on the expansion of economic cooperation, institutional solutions based on institutionalizing regional interaction and participation in the regional innovations’ framework.”

Majid Raoufi, PhD
Senior researcher of Energy Policy Making Office at Sharif University of Technology

“The St. Petersburg Summit in 2000 was held with participation from Iran, India and Russia and with a focus on the North-South corridor. Although sanctions imposed on Iran prevented Iran from participating again but eventually in 2016 a trilateral meeting between Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia was held in Baku which also focused on the North-South corridor.”
“Given that Central Eurasian countries do not have access to free waters they could use said corridor to meet their needs. This corridor can decrease South-East Asia’s dependency on the Suez Canal. Iraq and Jordan’s interest in participating in the project and also Georgia’s interests in the matter are among new issues.”

Alireza Nouri, PhD
Senior Fellow at Center for Strategic Research (CSR); Senior Expert at IRAS

“Russia pursues two aims; the short-term aim is to decrease pressure from the West and the long-term aim is a strategic approach of Neo-Eurasianism to conduct a balance between China and the West.”
“Neo-Eurasianism is an outlook by Russia to retain its current status in the future. Although it is said that the international order is in transition, there is no consensus in Russia in regard to Russia’s role and position in the new international order. A view holds that the world in future will be bipolar (in terms of political power) and Russia will be a center of power but note one of the two poles.”
“Iran is attractive for Russia because of geopolitical reasons and regional capacities. Iran and Russia favor the forming of certain regional institutions and are against big games in the region. Putin defended Iran’s membership in Shanghai with the same views in mind but Iran should not exaggerate Russia’s position in Eurasia. Russia would replace Iran with better options if such options existed.”
“Russia has selective interaction with other players including Iran’s regional rivals. Iran’s relative advantage for Russia is the help it can offer to counter the United States, China, India and Turkey. Convergence is not compatible with Russia’s system of government and politics. In fact, Eurasionism is just a tool Russia uses for political purposes.”
“The reason for Iran’s failure in regard to relations with Russia is that Iran does not have a sustainable model for its relation with Russia but mainly seeks to counter the United States in its relationship with Russia. The other main reason is that Iran tries to use innovations by others and does not give attention to its own initiative power.”
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