Libmonster ID: UZ-1032


On May 22, 2002, the Institute of Oriental Studies held a scientific conference "Iran and the CIS countries", where more than 20 reports and presentations were heard. On the relevance of the topic, especially in the light of changes in the world after the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, the need to preserve and expand good-neighborly relations between Iran and Russia was discussed in detail. A. Z. Egorin, Director of the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Mehdi Sanai, Head of the Cultural Representation at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Moscow.

The topic of relations between Iran and the CIS countries is very multidimensional, so various issues of a geopolitical, economic, and cultural nature were raised in the reports and speeches of the participants of the discussion. In his report, M. Sanaei gave a general description of Iran's place in the system of relations with the CIS countries. From his point of view, Iran has always had a huge impact on the political, economic and social situation in the countries bordering it. The presence of a common history and culture with the peoples of the CIS countries, common water and land borders, various organizations for regional cooperation, as well as bilateral and multilateral interstate cooperation agreements make relations between Iran and the CIS countries closely interrelated. But Iran's relations with Russia are of paramount importance in the whole complex of interstate and regional relations. In his opinion, these relations will influence both the political course of the two countries and Iran's relations with other CIS countries. Moreover, interstate relations between the Russian Federation and Iran are under close attention of countries in other regions.

The conference addressed one of the main issues - the influence of political Islam in Iran on its relations with the CIS countries. Almost all the speakers, after analyzing the changes in Iran's foreign and domestic policy over the past 20 years, noted the weakening of this factor. So, according to S. B. Druzhilovsky (MGIMO), the widespread opinion that Iran puts the task of Islamic propaganda and the export of ideas of the Islamic revolution at the forefront of its relations with the CIS countries does not correspond to reality. He stressed that the first serious contacts between Iran and the new CIS states occurred in the early 1990s, when the Iranian leadership had already got rid of the illusions associated with the concepts of "exporting the Islamic revolution" and "neither East nor West, but Islam"put forward at the beginning of Islamic rule. In his opinion, the first and last attempt of the Iranian leadership to promote Islamic ideas and attract the population of the former USSR to Islamic values is connected with the message of Imam R. Khomeini to the President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran supported a number of Islamic organizations in the newly formed republics, primarily in Tajikistan and Azerbaijan. But there were no attempts to impose Islamic ideas here. Druzhilovsky believes that this is due to the following reasons: the failures that pursued Iran in this direction in Arab countries; the position of secular regimes that came to power in the Asian republics of the former USSR, which were not inclined to establish Islamic orders; the Sunni religion that prevails in most new Muslim states; the Russian factor, which has been taken into account for some time It has become one of the most important elements of Iran's foreign policy.

N. M. Mammadova (Institute of Islamic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences), referring to this problem, noted that in the early 1990s it was the danger of strengthening the role of political Islam or fundamentalism that became one of the most important factors.

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the main ones in Central Asia and Transcaucasia. Moreover, the generally recognized source of this danger was considered to be the influence of Iran, and the factor of neutralization was the influence of Turkey. But over the past decade, the geopolitical and national interests of the countries of the region have changed, and the Iranian regime has undergone a significant evolution. Therefore, Mammadova believes that the threat of Iranian fundamentalism can be described as a hypothetical possibility rather than a real factor. Of course, the threat thesis is still widely used by Turkey, Israel and the United States, and the recent military incident with an Azerbaijani research vessel in the disputed part of the Caspian Sea from the point of view of Iran was presented by some as a military threat of Iranian fundamentalism, but it is impossible to seriously talk about it as a real threat. In the Caspian Sea, there is a struggle, first and foremost, for economic interests. In her opinion, Iran is very careful to use religion as an instrument of this struggle. Moreover, in the past decade, it is secular Turkey that has shown a higher level of religious activity compared to Iran, not only from government religious institutions (this is primarily the activity of the Iskanderpashi and Erenkoy groups in building mosques and opening Islamic centers), but also from state structures (this is primarily a Foundation under the Turkish Department of Religious Affairs which opened several Muslim schools and theological faculties in neighboring Muslim countries, as well as in some Russian republics).

A very interesting aspect from the point of view of possible Islamic influence from Iran was raised by L. Z. Arabajyan (Institute of Islamic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences). He believes that the implementation of the positive changes in Iran's policy that have taken place over the past fifteen years will largely depend on the place that Iran assigns and will assign itself both as a Muslim country and, moreover, as a Muslim state in today's more than billion-strong Muslim world. Iran's sense of solidarity with the Muslim world is natural. But, according to A. Z. Arabajyan, this solidarity should not violate the national interests of Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot actually take care of the well-being of the more than billion-strong Islamic world or for the successful implementation of the political aspirations of its individual detachments.

L. M. Kulagina (Institute of Islamic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) spoke about the decline in the role of the Islamic factor in Iran's relations with the CIS countries. She believes that Iran's policy was primarily determined by its geopolitical interests, and when state interests came into conflict with the issues of "Islamic solidarity", priority was always given to geopolitical goals.

L. M. Kulagina believes that Iran reacted very cautiously to the formation of new Muslim states in the region, seeing them as possible rivals for leadership in the region, as well as fearing the negative consequences of foreign influence (especially from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan), the growth of nationalistic sentiments of the Turkic-speaking population. population. Iran was most interested in strengthening relations with Russia, as during the 1990s they shared common interests in preventing the expansion of the United States and Turkey and the growth of their influence in the region. Tehran saw the Russian presence in the region as a kind of obstacle to the United States. Russia and Iran worked together to resolve the conflict situation in Tajikistan in the 1990s. Iran refrained from criticizing Russia's position on Chechnya, the two countries ' positions on Afghanistan largely coincided, and until the second half of the 1990s-on the Caspian Sea. The situation changed after September 11, 2001. The appearance of US military contingents in a number of CIS countries, Russia's rapprochement with NATO, and a change in its position on the Caspian Sea have made Iran's relations with the CIS countries wary. Iran began to build its relations with the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, taking into account these factors. Over the past year, Iranian leaders have visited almost all the CIS countries to conclude broad economic agreements. L. M. Kulagina believes that these trends can change the level of Russian-Iranian relations, and in the future-affect the political and economic situation of the states of Central Asia and Transcaucasia.

Touching upon the issue of priority of the CIS countries for Iran, N. M. Mammadova noted that since the 1990s, the Central Asian direction has been considered by Iran as one of the priorities. By 2001, this area had lost its primary importance for Iran, with the exception of issues related to energy projects. She cited the words of an influential Iranian go-

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President Ali Maleki: "Relations with the new republics of the region are not a priority for Iran." Of course, after the events in Afghanistan, interest in this region has increased. At the forum in Almaty, Iran's new Vice President Aref said in an interview with Nazarbayev that the Central Asian region is a priority for his country. But Mammadova attributes the growing interest not so much to the countries themselves, but to the possible expansion of the US position in the CIS countries. Touching upon the relations of the CIS countries, Iran and Turkey with Russia, she noted that their focus has changed-from the desire to distance themselves to the recognition of Russia as a priority area. The emergence of a new factor in the Central Asian region - the presence of the United States - has created problems not only for these countries, but also for Russia. Its position here, of course, will be weakened with the strengthening of American influence. What can compensate for this: steps to increase the confrontation with the United States? unification with those countries that are in a state of confrontation or "negative" neutrality with the United States, primarily with Iran? But can such an alliance really stand up to America? N. M. Mammadova believes that, firstly, of course not, and secondly, it objectively contradicts the interests of Russia, as well as Iran. The most preferable course for both countries is to move closer to the United States and at the same time to activate intraregional ties.

The need to reorient Russia's foreign policy towards the West, which, according to V. I. Sazhin (Voice of Russia Radio), is due to its belonging to Western civilization, in no way contradicts the national interests of our country. Russia's ties with Iran are economically beneficial for it, help it strengthen its position in Central and South-West Asia, and should not be limited if this does not contradict its interests. Military cooperation with Iran and cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, which the United States is so concerned about, do not contradict the international obligations assumed by both Russia and Iran.

V. P. Tsukanov (IB RAS) expressed different assessments of cooperation between Iran and the CIS countries in the light of the "American factor". He noted that relations between Russia and Iran are currently influenced by several factors. First of all, Russia is striving for integration with the West, trying to get ahead of other CIS countries. Its main economic partners are the United States and some Western countries. Another factor is that Russia's weak state budget does not allow it to maintain a modern army that meets its defense needs. This encourages it to seek shelter under the wing of NATO. Russia's Eastern policy, according to V. P. Tsukanov, is vague in the sense that in the East Russia has stopped looking not only for allies, but even for some points of support that can help it resist the sometimes very open pressure of the West. Speaking about the American factor in Iran's relations in the Central Asian region, as well as partly about the possible influence of Iranian political Islam, V. P. Tsukanov also touched upon the problem of defining the Iranian revolution, which is not only of scientific but also practical interest. He described it as an Islamic revolution "with a civilizational challenge" in the rational sense of the word. Such a definition, he believes, does not necessarily include extremism as a component and does not give grounds to classify Iran as a rogue state. But it was precisely in the Iranian revolution that Western countries saw the civilizational charge that marked the beginning of Iran's isolation.

Unlike most of the participants of the conference, who associate the prospects for further development of Iran with the deepening of ongoing reforms there, V. P. Tsukanov considers the victory of the conservatives to be a more positive option. In this case, religion will not be separated from politics, and therefore, there will be a chance to appeal to the ideas of social justice embedded in Islam. Among other things, this idea is a very effective tool to sharply "not dive" into the so-called failures of the free market, which puts individual interests above public ones. Today's Iranian reformers, according to V. P. Tsukanov, are trying to re-integrate the path of Iran's development into the western fairway. But the realization of this is fraught with the fact that in the very near future the country will find itself in the same situation in which it was on the eve of the Islamic revolution.

Thus, the current foreign policy and economic relations between Iran and Russia are not directed towards each other, but have the same direction - to the West. Can their vectors merge into one in the foreseeable future? V. P. Tsukanov believes that this is doubtful.

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First, the speed of movement is different. Russia is moving westward without any noticeable internal cataclysms. For Iran, this process is hindered by the actions of a strong political opposition. Secondly, the strategic convergence of the vectors of Russia and Iran is unlikely to be realistic due to the lack of common strategic goals. Third, Iran and Russia's economic ties with the outside world place too little emphasis on mutual trade exchanges. Iran's main commodity is oil, which is of little interest to the Russian market. The volume of external trade turnover between the Russian Federation and Iran in 2001, estimated at $ 1 billion. It was achieved mainly through the supply of weapons. So far, our relations have not been established on a basis that would exclude their significant fluctuations. Regarding Iran's relations with the CIS countries, V. P. Tsukanov drew attention to the fact that the foreign economic relations of the Central Asian states, in essence, reproduce the relations that developed during the existence of the USSR, and new trends are not yet visible.

A. Z. Arabajyan is more optimistic about the integration processes in the CIS countries. He believes that recent events indicate that the ideas of closer integration of post-Soviet countries are an objective reality. This is evidenced by the creation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran should take this factor into account when building its relations with the CIS countries.

The conference also raised the question of whether Iran can be considered as a strategic ally of the Commonwealth as a whole or of any of the CIS states, primarily Russia. A. Z. Arabajyan believes that the problem of strategic partnership between Iran and the Russian Federation is determined by the ambiguity of both Russia's foreign policy and the uncertainty of Iran's internal political doctrines. The same reasons lie at the heart of Iran's relations with Central Asian countries, which do not have well-developed military doctrines. Not the least role in this is played by the fact that in the official internal political doctrine of Iran, the confessional factor is given the status of statehood. The current strengthening of military ties between the CIS countries practically excludes the possibility of seeing any of the Central Asian CIS states as a strategic ally of Iran. Nevertheless, A. Z. Arabajian believes that Iran has sufficient potential for expanding mutually beneficial economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation with the CIS countries, noting that Tehran is no less a picky bride in choosing partners for such cooperation than pre-revolutionary Iran was.

N. M. Mamvdova (Institute of International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences) in her report on the economic relations of Iran with the CIS countries noted that already in the initial period of the reform movement in Iran, which began with the course of economic liberalization of the then President Rafsanjani, the political component in the strategy of increasing Iran's influence in Central Asia began to It was economic ties that began to be considered as a priority in relations with other countries. Summing up their development, she stressed that Tehran's economic opportunities did not allow it to become a leader in this region. Ankara also failed to do so, although its success in expanding economically into Central Asia and Transcaucasia was more impressive. Such a new trend as the export of capital by Turkey is manifested in its relations primarily with Azerbaijan and the countries of Central Asia; it is estimated that Turkish investments in the countries of this region exceeded $ 8 billion, and about 2.5 thousand Turkish companies operate in them. The trade turnover between them reached $ 1.3 billion in 1998 (excluding Armenia and Georgia), and $ 1.0 billion in 1999. Of course, Iran's performance is not so great. Data on Iranian investments and the number of operating companies are extremely contradictory, the amount of investment apparently does not exceed $ 0.6 billion. Iran's trade turnover with the countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia (excluding Georgia) amounted to $ 803.3 million in 1995/96, $ 1053.6 million in 1996/97, $ 876.5 million in 1997/98, and $ 604.2 million in 1998/99. After the crisis of 1998, the trade turnover began to increase again. Iran's exports do not include oil, but it does not play a role in trade with these countries.

Mammadova notes that it is extremely important for Iran, firstly, that its trade balance with these countries had a positive balance during the 1990s, and secondly, a significant part of its exports are manufactured goods. Despite the limited market of these countries due to the extremely low purchasing power of the population, Iranian goods, which are difficult to break through to European and other markets, are sold in the United States.

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countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia. It was in this market that Iran sold 12.4% of its non-oil exports in 1995/96, 19% in 1996/97, and 19.6% in 1997/98. The deterioration of the financial situation in Iran in 1998/99 immediately had an impact on reducing both imports and exports to the countries of the region, however, even during this period, when the President of Iran admitted that the economy was "sick", it was from the countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia that Iran received 12.6% of foreign exchange earnings from oil exports.

Mammadova noted such an extremely important moment in Iran's relations with the countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia as an increase in the share of transit turnover and services. Iran's activities to create a unified railway network, modernize it, build modern roads and various terminals along the perimeter of its borders, including on the northern borders, put into operation the North-South transport corridor, create free economic zones in Serakhs, Anzali, Nowshahr, and in the near future, probably in other regions of the country. Astara, - make this area of economic relations particularly promising. Let it be slow, but the issue of Iran's participation in joint projects for the withdrawal of Caspian energy resources will be resolved. Of course, the problem of Iran's participation in oil and gas projects and its position on the directions of routes for transporting Caspian oil to world markets are very ambiguous. Tehran supports southern routes passing through its territory. Iran sees the choice of other routes as a result of pressure exerted by the United States.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that as an OPEC member, Iran is not interested in additional oil supplies to the world market, much less in the supply of Caspian oil to the European market. It seems that Iran's willingness to provide its territory for the export of Caspian oil is largely geopolitical in nature, since in this case its influence on the world oil market and, consequently, on the interested countries will increase. At the same time, Tehran's interest in the southern route is dictated not only by these far-reaching goals, but also by pragmatic interests. Such a route can provide not only foreign exchange earnings from transit, but also to some extent contribute to solving the problem of employment, which cannot be solved with the help of the countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia, which are also experiencing demographic pressure, aggravated by the smaller development of private entrepreneurship compared to Iran.

The more positive perception of Iran by the CIS countries that has begun in recent years is largely due to the evolution of the Iranian model of development - in the direction of trying to democratize political and economic life. At present, both the executive and legislative powers are actually in the hands of the reform wing of the ruling elite. The economy has become the most vulnerable area, and little has changed in this area by 2002 compared to the Rafsanjani period. And this circumstance caused the Iranian "perestroika" to be perceived as a phenomenon that does not have a tendency to further develop. In addition, the positions of the so-called conservative wing remain very significant. And paradoxically, the United States helped strengthen their position.

In March 2001, the US President ranked Iran among the countries of the "axis of evil". Iran, in addition, according to a secret review prepared for the US Congress, is included in the list of countries against which atomic weapons can be used (along with China, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Russia). Such a position of the United States could not but cause a rise in anti-American sentiment in Iran and, consequently, not affect the strength of the reformers ' positions. It would seem that there is no direct connection between these phenomena, but it is there, Mammadova believes, and even very close.

The main factor in the confrontation between reformist and conservative forces was the struggle over the adoption of the budget for 2002/03. There was a heated debate in the Mejlis on this issue and disagreements arose between the reformist Mejlis and the Supervisory Board, which reached such an extent that they were submitted to the Expediency Determination Council, which is the last instance in resolving disputes between the Mejlis and the Supervisory Board. March 19, 2001 The Expediency Council has left 3 of the 5 controversial budget items submitted to the editorial board of the Mejlis, the main ones that provide the possibility of deepening reforms. Particularly symptomatic is the legislative authorization to attract private capital to the oil and energy sectors, and the granting of additional rights to the Government to attract foreign capital. Decisions on the introduction of ry-

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The fall in the exchange rate, the easing of restrictions on the import and export of foreign currency, and the issuance by the Central Bank of permits for the establishment of private banks also indicate a serious success of the reform wing of the Iranian political leadership. The introduction of an article on the introduction of the Internet in schools in the budget law is noteworthy, which was completely impossible for an Islamic country five years ago.

The modernizing Iranian model of development, which is acquiring more and more common legal features with the rules adopted in the world economy, is no longer associated with Islamic fundamentalism, and its further evolution will undoubtedly contribute to Iran's rapprochement with the CIS countries.

The report of M. R. Arunova (Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences) was devoted to the issues of Russian-Iranian relations in 2001-2002. She noted that Russia does not support Washington's confrontational approach towards Iran, which the Russian side has repeatedly openly expressed, including during the visit of the US President to Russia on May 23-24, 2002. The sphere of close attention of the Russian Federation and Iran is the problem of maintaining strategic stability in the world, the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons nuclear weapons (by the way, the United States refused to ratify this treaty), problems related to the involvement of Israel, India and Pakistan in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Speaking about the complex of relations in Central Asia, M. R. Arunova noted that the process of strengthening regional security cannot yet be called irreversible. Being generally stable, the situation here is characterized by the persistence of internal and external threats of terrorism and extremism, as well as a certain internal tension. The situation remains tense in Transcaucasia. It is widely known about the attention that Tehran pays to the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia does not rule out the possibility of Iran's participation in the Karabakh settlement process. Moscow and Tehran cannot ignore attempts to develop cooperation in the Caucasus without the participation of Russia, Iran and Armenia, especially since in January 2002 a draft Azerbaijani-Georgian-Turkish document on the joint fight against terrorism, organized crime, illegal arms and drug trafficking, etc. was agreed in Ankara.

Interesting data on Iran's cooperation with Tatarstan and the Saratov region were presented in the reports of D. Semigulin (MGIMO) and V. V. Bliznyuk (Saratov State University), and on the work of the North-South transport corridor in the report of V. P. Polyakov (Fund for Assistance to Russian-Iranian Cooperation). The report of I. S. Sonne (Editor-in-chief of the magazine "Around the Caspian Sea")was informative and rich on problems related to the Caspian region, the latest publications on the Caspian Sea, including the Internet, and the structure of information networks in the Caspian countries. O. I. Zhigalina (IB RAS) presented a report on a new problem that has recently emerged and is related to the migration of the population of Iran and the CIS countries. She stressed that diasporas are now becoming an important factor in international relations. O. I. Zhigalina noted the general trends of the beginning of this process, namely, political instability and economic problems. The same reasons trigger emigration from other CIS countries to Russia and Iran. The policy of Iran and Russia towards internally displaced persons was analyzed, and differences in the impact of migration processes on the demographic, social and ethno-cultural situation in Iran and Russia were noted.

A special section of the conference was devoted to the analysis of cultural interaction between Iran and the CIS countries. M. S. Kameneva (IB RAS) considered the problems of the influence of Iranian culture in Central Asian countries, Yu. A. Rubinchik (IB RAS) - issues related to the role of the Persian language in relations between Iran and the CIS countries, V. B. Klyashtorina (IB RAS) - problems of perception of Russian literature in Iran, translation of Russian works into Persian, influence of themes and images of Russian literature on the cultural life of Iran. S. Ravandi-Fadai (Institute of Islamic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) made a presentation on Islamic parties operating in Russia and the CIS countries, their programs and leaders. The discussion, although it revealed different points of view on the ways and forms of further development of relations between Russia and other CIS countries with Iran, different assessments of the sharp reorientation of Russia's foreign policy, the place of Russian culture in world civilization, nevertheless showed that there is unanimity in the desire to preserve and develop ties with Iran as meeting Russia's national interests They contribute to maintaining the current balance of power in the Central Asian and Transcaucasian region, and therefore to maintaining the stability that Russia needs on its southern borders.


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