TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (Mehr News Agency) – In an interview with the Mehr News Agency at the Polish Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, the Polish deputy foreign minister for Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs discussed the decision of the European Union to delay strengthening economic relations with Iran.

He said, "The EU's decision just referred to the union, and this decision will not influence Poland's will to expand all-out relations with Iran. This is why I am visiting Iran. In my opinion, Iran can solve the problem via dialogue, which can help the two sides assess the situation."


Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Baguslaw Zaleski stated that the expansion of Tehran-Warsaw relations in all fields was the goal of his visit to Iran, adding, "Since Iran is Iraq's neighbor and has voiced interest in becoming involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, this country is of special significance for us, and Warsaw is interested in friendly relations with Tehran. This was the subject of discussions between me and Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi.


"In my opinion, Iran is an important country in the region. This is not just because of Iran's economic potential, but also because of Iran's political power in the region."


On the fact that Poland seems to be leaning more toward the United States than toward the EU, he explained that Poland supported the U.S. on the Iraq issue because the EU had not yet formulated a common foreign policy, adding that EU members had many different views on the Iraq issue and could not reach a consensus.


He said, "We did not have a strong position in the EU. Furthermore, the EU never consulted us on its different issues, and therefore we did not consult the EU on the Iraq crisis and backed the U.S. By the time we surely become an EU member and this union defines a common foreign policy for itself, Poland will no doubt follow the EU."


He mentioned Poland’s activities in Iraq, saying, "Training the first Iraqi police group will be finished by the end of December and this group will formally start its work. A second group will soon be formed."


On the creation of a common security force in Europe, he said, "The most significant issue in Europe is security. But we believe that Europe should not create a force parallel to NATO, but it should reinforce NATO instead. Organizing another common military force is not correct and such a force will surely be weaker than NATO."


Zaleski believes the driving factor behind this idea is the fact that the U.S. military is much more powerful than the European military and is better equipped and possesses more advanced technology.  


"NATO provides Europe with security and there is no need to organize a new force," he stressed.


Asked about the differences between the U.S. and Europe in NATO, he stated, "The U.S. is trying to charge NATO with more responsibilities and to avoid individualism. Although NATO has played a weak role in Iraq up to now, it has played an influential role in Afghanistan."


He added that the biggest problem in the EU is the lack of unity among member states.


On Tehran-Warsaw cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq, he said, "In the meeting with the Iranian commerce minister, we studied the grounds for Tehran-Warsaw cooperation for the reconstruction of Iraq. In this meeting we came to the conclusion that the two countries should necessarily organize a common body named the Exclusive Group, whereby the two countries can be in contact and can study the possibilities for cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq. A seminar on the subject of Iraq is also going to be held in Tehran which some Polish companies will attend to discuss the issues of Iraq's reconstruction with authorities of Iranian companies.”


He added, “We are familiar with the region and know what to do. In spite of this fact, the Polish companies need the local expertise, and we believe that Iranian experts can provide us with this knowledge.


"One of the reasons highly motivating us to cooperate with Iran in the reconstruction of Iraq is that Iran and Iraq have a long common boundary. On the other hand, since Polish forces are mostly concentrated in regions with Shia citizens, such as Najaf and Karbala, which are very important places for Iran, this country can therefore play a significant role in the establishment of security in Iraq. In recent months, millions of Iranian pilgrims have visited these places and therefore holding negotiations with Iran, as one of the countries of origin of pilgrims, on establishing security in the abovementioned places is very significant."


He welcomed the proposal of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on NATO's involvement in Iraq, saying, "Worldwide cooperation is the best way to resolve the Iraq issue.


"This visit to Iran is the beginning of Tehran-Warsaw cooperation on Iraq's reconstruction and it is still too soon to give any viewpoints in this regard. There are fifteen Polish companies which are interested in cooperation in Iraq's reconstruction. Some Polish specialists, headed by the Polish deputy foreign minister, are going to visit Iraq in January to study the conditions and to negotiate with the Iraqi government. At present, the only problem is the financial problem.


"This year, we have spent $70 million in Iraq and it has been estimated that this amount will reach $100 million by the end of the year. This expense has been spent on providing Polish forces with the necessary equipment. However, the Polish government is not able to afford such expenses, and Iraq should not rely on long-term Polish financial support."


Asked whether Iraq's future looks as gloomy as Afghanistan's, he said that Afghanistan and Iraq are not comparable since Iraq was once a rich country and it has many skilled people. He went on to say that, unfortunately, Iraq was destroyed by the former regime and in his opinion the reconstruction of Iraq will take a long time, adding that Iraq possesses vast reserves of oil and gas, so this country should decide how to make use of them.


In conclusion, he said, “The problem in Iraq is that there are different groups in this country. The three main and powerful groups are the Shias, the Sunnis, and the Kurds, and this makes difficulties in governing this country. But if a constitution is compiled and public elections are held, we can hope that the conditions will improve in this country."






News Code 3553

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