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Foreign policy’s principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 18:45

Foreign policy - is a set of approaches and methods taken by the relevant structures of the particular state in its relations with other states or international organizations to achieve specific objectives identified as national interests of the state. The foreign policy pursued by a particular country may be the result of initiatives of this country or the retaliatory action against another country's initiatives. The foreign policy is a dynamic process, in which political approaches aimed at achieving national interests are carried out to identify a specific policy on diplomatic, interstate and international levels, and they are also carried out in the changing international environment. The foreign policy of any country is based on certain principles.
State's foreign policy is based on the two groups of principles - stable or structural (strategic) and tactical, with the property to change in specific situations. Iran's leading political scientist, University Professor Mahmood Shaheed Beheshti Sarekalam, when analyzing the main directions and principles of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran said - "The structure of foreign policy rests upon two pillars. The first pillar consists of sustainable (strategic) foreign policy principles, and the second pillar consists of the existing political system and politicians of the state. Sustainable principles of the foreign policy consist of three elements (components): the structure of the international system, geographic and political characteristics, the economic system and the general political culture. These three elements form the historically sustainable phenomena; they do not depend on the nature of the political system and on the will of the government leaders of a separate state. The second pillar, consisting of legal and ideological frameworks, is formed under the influence of the political system, which in turn fosters politicians and forms the atmosphere and the environment of the behavior and the culture. "
Globalization and the IRI's foreign policy. The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 went through a series of evolutionary stages, which can be divided into five periods: the period of the realistic approach - "the protection of the aspirations" (1979-1982); the period of the idealistic approach - "the expansion of the aspirations" (1982-1990); the period of the idealistic approach - "the economics of the aspirations" (1990-1998); the period of the idealistic approach - "the policy of the aspirations" (1998-2006); the period of the realistic approach - "the principles of the aspirations" (from 2006 - until present).
The processes of the globalization, occurring in the world, began to exert a growing influence on Iran's foreign policy since the early 90s of the last century, when started the so-called third stage in the country's foreign policy line. There is no doubt that, taking into account the characteristics of the each stage, the politicians involved in defining and implementing the foreign policy of Iran took some steps towards the effective use of available opportunities to confront existing threats and challenges of the international environment.
The globalization, as a powerful process, influenced the foreign policies of the states according to the principle "up - down" and "down - up", both at the international level and at the level of the inner life of these countries, especially in determining the basic parameters and directions of the foreign policy.
The analysis of the foreign policy of any country in the context of the globalization is possible only if there is the study of all the aspects of social, economic and political life of the state at the national level, and also taking into account the influence of economic, political and cultural factors at the international level on the life of this state.
The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is no exception, in order to understand its essence it is necessary to examine the underlying processes that occur in all the areas of the domestic life, and also all the factors, challenges and threats emanating from the international situation. We should also remember that the IRI's foreign policy is influenced by such processes as the development of the means of communication and information, the modern technologies, and legal factors, such as human rights issues, etc.
The change of the international conditions at the beginning of the XXI century was a concern of many countries. The globalization of the economy, politics and culture contributed to the development of the democratic processes in many countries around the world, led to a weakening of the ideological and nationalistic attitudes, helped promote mutual understanding and mutual convergence of the participants of the international relations, led to the development of the international cooperation, and also influenced on the domestic and international position of all players of the international policy. Naturally, when there are changes in the international system, there are changes in the behavior of players. Each player is experiencing a period of rethinking of existing values, national interests and if there are favorable external environment, he continues his policy in the new international environment. The first step taken by the players is to identify the main approaches to regulate the relations with other states and players in the international system. The Islamic Republic of Iran developed a new strategy in the changing international environment; the main thrust of this strategy was to conduct a deviation course away from the policy of the isolation, and the development of comprehensive relations in the international arena.
The analysis of the IRI's foreign policy shows that the main attention was paid to the development of multilateral relations with the countries of the world and to the understanding of the situation in the world, demonstrating that the world has entered a new phase of its development. The main point of this stage was the greater interdependence of the players in the international relations and the formation of a multipolar world, in which the role of the global and regional powers, and separate states of the world is increasing. This was the reason for the IRI to realize the need for conducting flexible foreign policy and the renunciation of the isolation policy.
In the early 90s of the last century, after the President Hashemi Rafsanjani came to power in Iran, the country's leaders drew attention to the impact of the globalization processes on the internal situation and the foreign policy of the state. During this period, a group of politicians came to power; they were aiming to carry out positive reforms, including the country's relations with the outside world. During the same period the disagreement between the government of Rafsanjani and militant clergy appeared for the first time. Differences related to the understanding of the country’s national interests. New government of the country advocated the need to review the basic concepts of the foreign policy, because the situation at the international arena and in the region has seriously changed after the Gulf War, which led to the increased expansion of the Western countries against Iran. On the other hand, this indicated that under the impact of the globalization processes, occurring in the world, the state is not able to act in accordance with the old attitudes and approaches.
On the other hand the revision of the foreign policy’s concept could contribute to the economic progress and the renewal of the country. One of the main causes of the debate on the renunciation of the isolation policy was the need to form a new image of Iran in the international arena that would correspond to the true aims and ideals of the new government and the international community. Another challenge was the country's ability to use the current political situation in the international system that emerged after the "cold war" and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the conditions of the development and deepening of the globalization processes. It was necessary to take into account the fact that in previous years Iran faced great economic problems associated with attracting foreign investment for the development of the modern technologies, overcoming the technological and economic backwardness of the country, for the improving relations with international organizations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In general, it can be affirmed that the Rafsanjani's government's approach to the globalization process, happening in the world, showed that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready, both theoretically and practically, for the new international environment. This is the first attempt to take into account the international factors in the foreign policy of the country, showing its readiness for the new challenges and threats to the international life. This circumstance contributed to the fact that in the inner life of the country were taken steps adequate to new conditions, were changed customs regulations aimed at simplifying import and export, were created free trade zones, and were rethought values of the country’s economic life. The government took steps to develop and expand political freedoms, freedom of the press, to increase the role of democratic structures. All these changes are the result of influence of the new international situation.
The new stage of the implementation of the Iran’s national interests in the context of the globalization started after President Mohammad Khatami came to power in Iran in 1998. New international conditions showed the inevitability of the changes, the development of new attitudes and approaches, both at the domestic level and at the level of the foreign policy in order to maximize new opportunities and challenges in the changing world. The presidential election (2 hurdad 1376 year/23 May 1997), the changes that occurred during the presidency of M. Khatami, was a kind of a response to the need for a change in order to get an adequate attitude to the new reality and new situations. In these circumstances, the Islamic Republic of Iran changed its approach in the foreign policy, committed itself to a policy of cooperation and collaboration with other members of the international community aimed at ensuring its national interests. In other words, the recognition of pluralism, the equality of cultures, the departure from the support of all kinds of radical religious movements and trends in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran were the essence of a new approach to the foreign policy’s objectives.
According to M. Khatami, the foreign policy should be based on the understanding of the events that take place in the world and in the region. At one of the meetings with the members of the political groups aimed at solving problems with the Muslim world, he said: "Decision-making in private, without the regard to the realities and events taking place in the world, can cause the failure of those people, who ignore the realities of today's world."
This approach made changes in the IRI’s foreign policy. During the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the essence of the foreign policy was to ensure the needs of the country and to ease tensions in relations with other countries, but during the presidency of M. Khatami the attention of the statesmen was directed at understanding and awareness of the new conditions and events, taking place at the regional and global levels. It can be affirmed that three decades after the victory of the Islamic Revolution the IRI's foreign policy suffered major changes in the content and in the practice of implementation.
In general, there are the following main factors, influencing Iran's foreign policy in the context of ongoing globalization processes: failure of the foreign policy of the country over the past two decades; its inconsistency to the management expectations; the large number of structures and mechanisms that influence the decision-making in the foreign policy; the lack of coherence and coordination in their activities; the dominance of the idealistic approach to the foreign policy that faced serious difficulties and challenges in the global arena; a large dependence of the decisions on the idealistic systems that do not meet the modern world; the inconsistency of the decisions and practices of the foreign policy’s management of several governments to the aims and objectives of the national interest; the governments' inability to analyze and evaluate transformation and changes happening in the world.
This situation forced the country's leadership to reconsider its attitude to the world system. As a result, Islamic Republic of Iran recognized the realities of the world system, took steps to reform the internal life of the country, to strengthen the confidence of other nations, and the renunciation of the isolation policy of Iran from the outside world, etc.



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