President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi’s visit to Doha is a political and economic trip. What is your assessment of the expansion of relations between the two neighboring countries?
The foreign policy of the thirteenth administration and President Raeisi is based on the development of relations with friendly countries, especially neighboring ones. This policy is based on the fact that Iran’s neighboring countries have capabilities that can meet each other’s needs in a bilateral or multilateral relationship. Countries in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region need stability and tranquility to pursue their common interests through regional cooperation. Qatar is one of these countries that have considerable capabilities, both in the political and economic arenas.
For years, Qatar had been under pressure and sanctions by some other Arab countries in the region, which is the issue that led to closer relations between Tehran and Doha. Of course, Iran and Qatar have had good political relations over the years. Now, however, this relationship can be categorized at a higher level because of the visit by Iran’s top executive official to Qatar to attend an international summit and to strengthen relations with this country.
During Raeisi’s visit, 14 cooperation documents were signed between the two countries. You said earlier that the political relations between the two countries are at a high level. Can we expect further economic relations similar to the political relations that have recently been improved between the two countries?
Yes, it can be expected that the economic relations, like the political ones, would further improve. This is related to another concept in the political literature of the thirteenth administration, namely, “economic diplomacy” which is the main motto of the government’s foreign policy.
Nevertheless, in practice, we should consolidate “economic diplomacy” by defining basic strategies and providing the necessary structures and infrastructure for its implementation.
Iran has a special geographical position, it has good potential in terms of educated manpower; it has large energy reserves, etc.
Accordingly, we should use the country’s special geographical position, which is located in the way of the East-West and North-South transit corridors, to exchange goods and meet the needs of other countries that can use these routes.
We need to identify the capacities that exist around Iran and direct those capacities in a direction that serves our interests. For example, one of the ways to take advantage of Iran’s geographical position is to swap energy and grain between the countries in the north, south, east and west of the country. This strategy can generate income and create jobs in Iran.
One of the necessary infrastructures needed for “economic diplomacy” is the development of transportation, especially rail transportation, which significantly reduces the cost of trade. Meanwhile, we should sign agreements with friendly neighboring countries, so that our exporters will be able to derive the benefits of preferential tariffs. Joining collective agreements and regional cooperation is another policy that should be pursued. We should take a series of measures in order to gain economic and political benefits from the development of relations with other countries.
Do you think that the expansion of Iran’s relations with Qatar will affect other Arab countries’ ties with Iran? Can the signing of cooperation agreements between Tehran and Doha reduce differences between other Arab countries with Iran?
Yes, it definitely has an effect. Qatar is an important country in the region with high economic and political potential. Iran helped Qatar during hard times, which paved the way for a deeper friendship between the two countries. During Raeisi’s visit to Qatar, we witnessed warm hospitality from the Qatari government, which conveys a political message. This friendship will encourage other regional countries to find solutions for their differences.
Raeisi also met with some officials of the participating countries on the sidelines of the Qatar Gas Exporting Countries Summit. It seems that the government is taking advantage of every diplomatic opportunity to press ahead with its plans.
Yes, it is a privilege that our president and our diplomatic apparatus seize every opportunity. We must seize every opportunity to develop relations with other countries, and to announce our stances on regional and international crises. In general, President Raeisi’s trip to Qatar is an important visit, and we should wait for its fruition in the future.