IN our roundtable yesterday with Ambassador Mohammad Tanhaei of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who was accompanied by Minister Mojtaba Nadali, we agreed that Philippine-Iran relations should be made to grow and deepen. Cooperation in anti-terrorism and anti-extremism, the Ambassador, said is one area that can be started soon. But even without a formal agreement, Iran is ready to help in any project against terrorism.
That is the main subject of our news report about the roundtable.
Our report also tells of Ambassador Tanhaei’s optimism about the expansion of trade relations between Manila and Tehran as a result of the recent lifting of the US-led Western states’ economic sanctions on Iran.
Very realistically, Ambassador Tanhaei said the first thing to be done to make relations grow is to increase knowledge and information about each other. There should be more people-to-people contact and larger exchanges of knowledge and information.
More tolerant Iran
A piece of information that must be corrected among the majority of Filipinos about Iran is that Iranian society is just like most of the traditional Arab countries in terms of freedom of movement and expression. That is not true. In Iran, people of other faiths are allowed to enjoy freedom of worship in their Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and non-Shia Muslim mosques.
Women in Iran are visibly exercising rights just like the men and are never treated like veritable non-persons as in many Arab countries.
Women outnumber men in the colleges and universities. Many of the outstanding professional achievers in Iran are women.
We gave the Ambassador the pleasant information that The Manila Times and the Tehran Times have a cooperation agreement. And if any Times reader thinks Tehran Times is pusillanimous, here we reprint a TT column in the Jan. 20 issue. The article could remind you of how we in Times take digs at the government and authority figures. This brief article also contains facts about the Iranian economic and developmental situation:
Post-sanctions Iran and meritocracy
By M.A. Saki Tehran Times
TEHRAN – Finally the nuclear talks bore fruit. The wall of sanctions has started collapsing. This was the due to the marvelous job that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team did during more than two years of intensive nuclear talks with great powers.
The deal, which is unprecedented in the world in the past 50 years, was a great victory for Iran and its negotiating partners.
Now is the time to use the post-sanctions situation for social and economic development of the country. As Zarif and his team acted professionally it is naturally expected that others in managerial posts do their work efficiently.
The removal of sanctions is a great important step by itself but not a panacea. The nuclear accord will not get us to the desired place if there is not a strong determination to fight corruption and establish a transparent and competitive economic atmosphere.
Some experts believe that corruption has not been less damaging to the country than economic sanctions. Nepotism should be considered a crime in the country.
It has been proven that the great wealth of a nation is its skilled workforce. The concrete examples of this in the modern history are South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Fortunately, the 80-million Iranian population is gifted with educated and skilled workforce, but the point is how to unleash this potential. A considerable number of highly talented Iranian students leave the country since they find the situation not ripe for research work. Some argue that Iran is losing billions of dollars as a consequence of brain drain. For example, according to IRNA news agency, Reza Faraji Dana, who was science minister for a short time, said in January 2014 that Iran is losing about 150 billion dollars annually from brain drain.
The sharp fall in oil prices clearly shows that Iran should reduce its dependence on oil and instead capitalize on the talents of its youths. Officials should also know that renewable energies, which their development is essential in view of global warming, will make fossil fuels less valuable in the coming years.
The economic and social progress will happen only if competence and expertise win over nepotism and political affiliation; and only when a transparent and competitive economic situation is established.