On April 9, 2018, leading experts from Russia and Iran took part in the Russian-Iranian dialogue, organized, for the first time in Tehran, by the Valdai Discussion Club in partnership with the Tehran-based Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS). The first round of the dialogue was held in Moscow in April 2017. Its goal is to harmonize the two countries’ policies and develop flexible approaches to the solution of international problems.
In Tehran, the experts discussed the most acute issues of politics and security in the Middle East and beyond. The topics of closed-door discussions were the Eurasian integration and bilateral relations between Russia and Iran.
The participants exchanged views on such issues as the US foreign policy and its possible consequences, the role of China and regional powers in world affairs, structural changes in the global economy, the dynamics of the situation in Greater Eurasia, prospects of the Eurasian Economic Union. Particular attention was paid to the settlement of the situation in Syria and Afghanistan.
All the discussions highlighted the fact that relations between Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have never been as good as they are now. This creates an opportunity to coordinate efforts between the countries at a time when a new world order is being shaped. However, Russia and Iran need more mutual trust and knowledge about each other.
Opening the dialogue, Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that the world is changing, and a new reality is emerging which requires Russia and Iran to be strong together in the face of new challenges. Moreover, the behaviour of some actors can lead to disaster. The interests of Moscow and Tehran do not coincide completely, with differences remaining between the countries’ approaches to some regional problems, but good relations between the two countries enable them to advance dialogue on all issues. “Mutual trust and mutual knowledge is necessary for cooperation in a new world, where Russia and Iran should work together,” Bystritskiy stressed.
Mehdi Sanaei, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Russian Federation, noted in turn that the active development of good relations between Iran and Russia requires support of research institutions. He stressed the importance of discussing regional problems and ways to solve them, as well as questions about the future world order. According to him, when Russia and Iran face sanctions, it is necessary to exchange views and ideas to overcome these difficulties.
Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, pointed to the timeliness of the Russian-Iranian dialogue, launched by the Valdai Club and IPIS in 2017. Over the past year, there have been major changes in the international arena, where an escalation is evident. At the same time, the overall atmosphere in relations between Russia and Iran is positive. “What we need is not just tactical cooperation, but a strategic dialogue. Both Syria and the situation in the world lead us to this,” Lukyanov stressed.
According to Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour, President of the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), the key tasks facing the dialogue participants are the exchange of views on how Russia and Iran see the world and the Middle East region, as well as the establishment of interaction between experts, which will allow to bring the two countries closer to each other.
A special session of the dialogue was devoted to the discussion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Abbas Aragchi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, spoke at the meeting.
More than 50 leading Russian and Iranian experts in international relations, security and nuclear energy took part in the Russian-Iranian dialogue.
On April 8, 2018, on the eve of the event, high-ranking Iranian politicians – Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran – met with the Russian delegation.