Iran would opt to join regional coop. organizations ‘freely’

TEHRAN, Aug. 22 (MNA) – Philippines’ ambassador to Tehran has sat in an interview to Mehr News International Service to address the most recent developments in Southeast Asia.

Mehr News International Desk asked Eduardo Martin Menez about recent US-China relations over the latter’s ambitions in South China See, and possible implications for the whole arrangement of coalitions in the Southeast Asian region. In the third part of the interview, Mr. Menez comes to elaborate more on possible mutual attractiveness Iran and Philippines would have and the prospects of economic trade and extended cooperation, with Iran’s now open markets for other countries after the nuclear deal with west.

In the interview, Payman Yazdani and Javad Heirannia participated.

So these were the economic attractions; what about the political ones?

We recently celebrated the 50th year anniversary of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Iran last year. The two countries have had good relations all throughout. People-to-people relations have been very close. The Iranian students have been coming in the Philippines for almost 40 years; they continue to go maybe in lesser numbers. Now, we have the second generation of Iranians who study in the Philippines and continue this very good people-to-people relations.  Politically, we’ve had diplomatic relations; part of my job as well as the job of your ambassador in the Manila is to try and improve and enhance the relations that we have. Recently, we had some very high-level visitors from the Philippines came to Iran; our Minister of Science and Technology was here, also a minister who deals with peace negotiations, also visited recently to attend the WAVE conference, the Speaker of Philippines Parliament also visited very recently; I hope that more high-level exchanges will happen and more agreements between two countries will be entered into. As a result of a visit by my Science and Technology Minister, we have a MoU that is being negotiated and will be signed. Soon a deal on exchange of information, nanotechnology and agro-biotechnology will be signed. So, more official interaction is something that I know will happen in the near future.

What is the Philippines’ view of Iran’s permanent membership of the Shanghai Organization?

Well, Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a relatively new organization, and as far as I understand, this is a group of countries that Russia and China in particular have been organizing and having meetings, and Iran is an observer government at the moment. And I understand that because of the nuclear agreement, the conditions are developing that if sanctions are lifted then Iran would be considered for full membership. This is something that Iran as an independent country can fully decide to do what it wants and to choose to be a member county of the Shanghai and the member countries also would accept Iran as such. In Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia, I do not believe that the SCO is something very well known; so, if Iran joins it, there will be no strong opinions in the Philippines against that happening, because there are many regional economic organization existing already; in Asia alone, we have Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation which has been going on for over 20 years and it has 21 member economies from Latin America, Europe and Asia; we have ASEAN, and South East Asian Regional Cooperation Community; so, I do not think there will be any strong oppositions with regard to these economic regional organizations as to who the members are , because the objectives are mainly to promote trade and investment within the member countries, and generally, if you are a free-market economist, youth would  think it as a good thing, and it will be for the advantage of Iran to join these economic organizations so that its own trade position is enhanced. I understand that even your jointing the WTO is something that may be also considered by Iranian government.

But the Shanghai Organization is a security organization, too. Isn’t it?

Oh, yes. With the security aspects of that, again, this regional security organization exists in other countries and again, the main objective is to ensure the stability of the region that it covers and the membership of that organization may have some political implications ; so if Iran joins SCO, it may bring into that organization something of interest to our region, and its only impact, security-wise, would be on China, although the SCO is mostly concerned with the countries within the geographical limitations and not the outside.

Anything that you are interested to add at the end of the interview?

The Philippines pursues the China challenge on the common seas proceeding within the arbitration court because the convention of the law of sea allows any questions regarding the provisions of the conventions to be ventilated and discussed or even decided by this tribunal; so we are using this legal, non-confrontational mechanism and we do not even know what the court would say, it could be favorable or not. But we are trying to explore all avenues to resolve this difference in the opinion. As I said there are things that could be of interest to Iran with regard to how we are doing it and in relation to its own questions on territory.

News Code 109403


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