IPIS & Aleksanteri Institute Roundtable 11 April 2016 IPIS Tehran, Iran

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1 IPIS & Aleksanteri Institute Roundtable 11 April 2016 IPIS Tehran, Iran The joint roundtable between the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) and Aleksanteri Institute from Finland was held on the 11 th of April, 2016 at IPIS in Tehran, Iran. The meeting was opened by the Director of European Studies Department in IPIS, Dr.Vahid Karimi and Professor Markku Kivinen, Director of the Aleksanteri Institute. After welcoming remarks, lecturers from both Iranian and Finish sides delivered their speech in three panels respectively: World order and global security arrangement, Regional order and challenges and Power of influence. At the first panel, Dr.Hadian, professor at the University of Tehran, discussed the concept of the Middle East and regional security. First, he argued that we devise policies mostly on the basis of the nation-state. For instance, regarding the Arab Spring, we have a different policy about Syria which is different from Bahrain, Egypt, and Libya. Raising the important issue of Iranian presence in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan Hadian made clear that my government has defined basically America and Israel as a threat thus we need to build infrastructure in order to deal with this threat. So on the basis of this threat perception, the strategic depth of Iran will be identified which is going to be in Lebanon. It is vital to our interest because we think that Israel and particularly America seeks the regime change in Iran. By calling US policy toward Iran containment plus selective engagement, Hadian said It is very important for us to secure our strategic depth that gives us détente. Syria is a corridor for us to have access to Lebanon. Iraq has also inherent value for us. Any insecurity in Iraq would have immediately impact on our security. The last point mentioned by Naser Hadian was the strategic matrix of the region we see Iraq is insecure; Lebanon has a very fragile state, Syrian civil war, Yemen in a civil war, Afghanistan in the civil war, Pakistan worries about its fragility, Saudi Arabia that we are worrying about becoming a failed state. We also see a sort of sectarian war is being waged to dominantly by Saudi Arabia. Americans do not have identical interests with the Israelis but I guess they are not in a hurry also to change the situation. If the insecurity trickles down to Jordan and Saudi Arabia things would be different but as long as it is contained within the borders, they are not going to be in a hurry to change. I have called this policy managed chaos but the situation is different for Iran and Europe. Europe is facing two important crises which make the interest different from the Americans: refugees and terrorism. So, these issues have made them look at Iran no longer as a part of the problem, they are exploring to see if Iran can be a part of the solution as the most stable country in the region. So that is why we would like to see we can cooperate with each other in order to achieve our objectives which they are not identical but they have a lot in common. 1

2 Dr. Markku Kivinen, Director of the Aleksanteri Institute, continued the session with his presentation about Russian foreign policy in global context. He said: Russians are facing several challenges in macro and micro economic, the problem of political system and its functionality and legitimacy. The next problem is foreign policy frame. The three frames define the international system: the cold war in the post-war period, influence game, integration game. In the international system when we have three frames at the same time. The problem is that the big powers are trying to be in all the frames at the same time. This is the reality of the contemporary world, it gives Russia and the US the same negotiation table forever, they do not have any economic integration, but they have this kind of threat for each other, this game is so hard in the contemporary world. This game has players, on one side is NATO and on the other side is the corporation of China and Russia. From this point you understand why the nuclear defense system is very problematic for Russia; this is a kind of threat in the Europe. Now after nuclear deal everybody knows the US did that for the whole system. The key concept in power struggle between great powers is the sphere of influence. China and Russia competing in Central Asia. If you ask why Ukraine happened. It is because integration conflict to military confrontation. Syria as a secondary sphere of interest both for Russia and for the USA. This is a very complicated game because this military confrontation is very important.what should be learned from this? First of all, it should be learned that cold war should be eliminated. Eliminating the Cold War legacy and integrating Russia in the Western structures. China and Russia should be integrated into new structures. Most of the big countries have multilateral foreign policies, based on expectations but if they are realistic is the challenge, if they are up to more problematic frames, problems and global challenges would happen. The final speaker of this panel was Dr. Mousavi, Iran s former Ambassador to Finland who discussed the recent development in Karabakh that once again attracted attention to Transcaucasia. He claimed that Even with a ceasefire, there s growing concern that the institution tasked with regulating the conflict the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is no longer effective. On one side, U.S. has even tried to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem without involving other participants in the peacekeeping process Russia and France and on the other side Russia tried to come up with the concept of balanced partnership maintaining collaborative relations with Armenia, a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan and political and economic cooperation with Turkey. Mousavi concluded by developing three new scenarios for the resolution of the conflict: the resumption of the work of the OSCE Minsk Group Changing the membership of the Minsk Group to include other actors. Russia s direct mediation Professor Makku Kagaspour, Research Director at Aleksantri Institute, opened the second panel on regional order and challenges, stressing European and Asian perspectives on Russia. He argued that from the European perspective annexation of Crimea and Russia s direct military 2

3 involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and Syria has created a new situation. As a result of unintended political processes Refugee crisis in Europe is creating tension between Russians and Europe. Russia is seen by Europe as a potential military threat for neighbours (Ukraine) and rising regional military power. Russia is also a significant resource in specific sectors of the economy, energy etc for Europe and Significant for neighbours in military politics and wider security politics. In European prospective Russia is a diminished military threat for the Pacific but unbalancing the international order, for Central Asia is a dominant power in the area. Alireza Miryousefi, The Director of Middle East Studies Department in IPIS, brought this panel to a close, addressing the question of how we can restore peace and stability in the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He argued that The UN resolution 2254 created a very good momentum and it has raised many hopes to be successful to decrease the level of tension in Syria, and it can be a good start to restoring stability in the other areas like Iraq and Yemen. He added there are three big players in the region and two big global players out of the region: Iran, Saudi Arabia and turkey in the regional level and the US and Russia are the main players in the global level that each side- Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey try to persuade them to have military intervention in the region particularly in Syria. Miryousefi then continued, describing Iran and Saudi Arabia`s policy toward Syria and concluded that resolution 2254 of the UNSC enjoyed from a good capability tobe a good start for restoring stability in the region. It could have a good effect on unrests in Iraq and Yemen that could be also introductory for ending the war in Yemen. The third panel opened with Dr. Sirke Mäkinen, Research Fellow in the University of Tampere. By focusing on Russian public diplomacy, she explained that more attention paid to public diplomacy during Putin s second term as president. The colour revolutions occurred in Georgia and Ukraine as a consequence of the west s soft power tools. Russia s public diplomacy is focused on the post-soviet space, and soft power in Russia is related to this. She then explained that educational diplomacy can help serve Russia s foreign policy goals, such as Eurasian integration. Alumni from Russian universities make up part of the political and economic elite of their country of origin. Russia attempts to strengthen its influence but also to present itself as an equal in following a global trend of emphasizing the importance of cross-border education and education export. 3

4 Sotoudeh Zibakalam, researcher of European studies at IPIS, started by referring to the Portland survey of global ranking of soft power and emphasized that although predictable, it is interesting that out of 30 countries with the most soft power, 18 are European that makes you think about the soft power of EU as a whole, which to her opinion has been challenged recently in different ways and aspects. She then touched upon the main resources of soft power as foreign policy, political value, and culture. After going through the assets and challenges of EU`s soft power, Zibakalam argued that EU`s most dramatic challenge is the failure to stand by and live up to its principles and values. That has really to my opinion lead to a lack of credibility and damaged its soft power image and if the established and announced value of the EU are being applied with hypocrisy especially in the sensitive issues in the Middle East, the soft power would be damaged. She then concluded that in defending these values, sometimes you have to use hard power like what Iran is doing against terrorist groups such as Daesh (ISIL) The next speaker Susanna Hast, Research Partner at Aleksanteri Institute, made some points on sphere of influence and commented in practice states are not fully equal, this distance makes great powers to have more sphere of influence, and this is where inequality starts. Sphere of influence maintains the system, it is functional in the state system, and it also challenges the system. She believed that From Russians perspective their influence has been on US and EU, it is a kind of scoring game. This concept is adopted from the cold war and if the west pursued its system in which surrealist exists as a principle for the international system, there is still a regional hegemony and it is influenced by great powers The session continued with Tynkkynen Veli-Pekka, Professor at Aleksanteri Institute, who concentrated on Russia s Energy Policy. In his view, Russia s energy strategies are to substitute domestic hydrocarbon consumption in order to boost exports, by selling more oil and gas in the market. It is done in some parts by emphasizing nuclear energy and renewable energies.the next topic was Russian policies toward the climate change Russia produces 6% of the greenhouse gases. Russia is the world s biggest producer of fossil energy and joined the Kyoto Protocol after 2005 and until 2012, Russia was part of this EU and UN initiative. It was a new situation for Russia. 24% GHG emission reduction commitment for Russia was signed. Mohsen Pakparvar, Director of the Department for Energy Studies at IPIS, was the final speaker on this panel giving an overview of energy security and Iran s energy situation. After the revolution till the end of Iran-Iraq war, we have seen a trend in energy market but not so well and the revenue of the Iranian government was very low and then after the war till last year, we have seen tough sanctions from EU and especially from the US. Consequently, it resulted in a sharp decrease in our production. Now after the nuclear deal, we hope to come back to the market and have our share as before. Iran is also expected to increase production as sanctions are lifted. EIA 4

5 estimates that Iran has the technical capability to increase crude oil production by about 600,000 b/d by the end of So, future prospects will see increasing production. Iran tries to improve regional security. Iran is trying to help regional security means a higher need for security and stability in the Persian Gulf. Iran helped the security of the region especially the Strait of Hormuz and all oil ships could pass through this strait without problems. That would mean Iran s role in energy security cannot be denied and we are ready to assist the EU in their needs and this is mutually beneficial to both sides. Reported by: Fahimeh Abbasi Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) 5

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