Algeria, an Independent Ally for Iran in North Africa
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Interview with Reza Ameri
Iran's Ambassador to Algeria
The nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – has been among those factors, which have affected Iran's relations with various countries in the past few years. Some countries like Saudi Arabia outwardly welcomed the deal, but behind the scenes, they did their best to prevent Iranian people from availing themselves of the amenities of the agreement. There are, however, some other countries, which are considered among countries, which have close relations with Iran, and Algeria is one of these countries. This is a country, which has independent positions close to those of Iran on many issues, including in terms of its political literature, and is a reliable point for Iran in North Africa. Some analysts consider this country among the oldest allies of Iran, which has been somehow forgotten in recent years, and also believe that economic and political relations between Tehran and Algiers are less than satisfactory. However, during more than a year that has passed since the conclusion of the JCPOA, relations between the two countries have picked up, and as put by Reza Ameri, the Islamic Republic of Iran's ambassador to Algeria, bilateral relations are “growing.” Therefore, in addition to high-ranking banking delegations that are shuttling between the two countries in a bid to promote financial relations, Iran is also expected to launch two production lines in the North African country in the near future for the production of cars and medicine. Reza Ameri has been Iran's ambassador to Algeria during the past two years and has discussed details of the two countries’ relations in the following interview.
Q: Mr. Ameri, the first question is about Algeria’s approach to Iran's nuclear deal. Please tell us what effect has the JCPOA have on the two countries’ relations?
A: Since the very beginning [of the nuclear talks] and even before the conclusion of the JCPOA, Algeria was positive about Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and constantly and explicitly defended Iran's right in international bodies. Following the conclusion of the JCPOA, relations between central banks of the two countries started and exchanges have been made between high-ranking banking officials from Iran and Algeria. At present, central banks of the two countries are interrelated and obstacles related to issuing purchase and sale contracts have been removed through serious follow-ups or are being removed. Of course, the private sector in Algeria is still under the effect of conditions created by the sanctions, but since there is no serious impediment to its cooperation with Iran, if necessary follow-ups are made the Algerian private sector will soon enter Iran's market. Efforts made by Iranian diplomats in various countries following the conclusion of the JCPOA and removal of sanctions are aimed at proving that the door is now open and there is no barrier to establishing relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and there are legal ways available for economic and trade exchanges between Iran and other countries.
Q: Has Algeria shown any willingness to cooperate with Iran in the field of peaceful nuclear activities following conclusion of the JCPOA or not?
A: Algeria considers taking advantage of peaceful nuclear technology as its right and emphasizes on it. On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran has also indicated its readiness to cooperate with the Algerian side within framework of international law and I believe that this issue will be seriously followed up by both countries in the future.
Q: Have pressures exerted by the United States on some countries, which have made them feel that sanctions are still in place, had any impact on Algeria’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran?
A: We have not had this feeling up to the present time. The government of Algeria has demonstrated a special form of independence in international decisions it makes compared to other countries. Due to the approach that Algeria has already taken to the United States and some excessive demands by Washington, the country has maintained its independence in decision-making with regard to Iran.
Q: In your opinion, what obstacles are there to development of Iran's relations with Arab countries following the JCPOA, which the Islamic Republic of Iran should take steps toward their removal?
A: In my opinion, one of the most important obstacles is the negative atmosphere created by the West and enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region, which emanates from the theory of Iranophobia and Shiaphobia. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran should take steps to thwart and control this atmosphere and we must assure various countries that Iran poses no threat to them. In other words, through reassuring other countries, we must change the situation in our favor and foil anti-Iran policies of the opposite side. Of course, this is a different task, but this measure should be followed seriously, because unfortunately this negative atmosphere leaves its mark on economic relations between Iran and other countries.
Q: Have policies adopted by Iran's diplomatic apparatus been so far successful in this regard?
A: Yes. In some countries, they have had good effect and I think we are moving toward gradual undoing of the existing knots, because the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran have launched a heavy propaganda campaign and some regional rivals of Iran believe that isolation of the Islamic Republic will increase their credit while this is not the case in reality.
Q: What is your opinion about achievements of the Islamic Republic of Iran following the JCPOA?
A: The JCPOA has created a good atmosphere for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although we have not reached good results with respect to certain issues and despite the fact that some agreements may be implemented with delay, the trend is generally growing and we hope that optimal results would be reached over the next year or sooner.
Q: What is your assessment of relations between the two countries during one and a half years in which you have been the Islamic Republic of Iran's ambassador to Algeria?
A: Relations between Iran and Algeria stand out among other North African countries. Of course, apart from Algeria, we have good relations with other countries in North Africa, but proximity between the two countries’ political views on many issues has helped us to start good cooperation with Algeria. The two countries share a common view on the issue of Palestine and when it comes to Syria, Yemen and other developments in the Middle East, their viewpoints either totally conformant or are very close. Algeria is a country which is economically dependent on oil sales and due to drastic reduction in oil prices, the country has been trying to replace some other economic resources for oil and this issue has provided good cooperation grounds between Iran and Algeria. Agreements reached during the two countries’ joint economic commission, which was chaired by the Algerian prime minister and Iran's first vice president in Algeria last year, have been seriously pursued by the two countries. In line with those agreements, cooperation has started to launch a production line for Iranian vehicles as well as another production line for medicine in Algeria.
Trade cooperation between the two countries tripled in 2015 compared to past years and the two countries’ private sectors have indicated their willingness to further boost cooperation. I believe that proximity between the two countries’ political views has provided a suitable ground for development of their economic cooperation. On the whole, relations between the two countries are expanding and I believe that presence of Iran's private sector and companies exporting technical and engineering services to Algeria will greatly increase in this country in the near future and, in parallel, the two countries will develop cooperation in the fields of industry and commerce.
Key Words: Algeria, Independent Ally, Iran, North Africa, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Relations, Obstacles, Iranophobia, Shiaphobia, Regional Rivals, Middle East, Economic Cooperation, Ameri
Source: Khorasan Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org
*Link for Further Reading: Iran, Algeria Enjoy Good Potential to Expand Ties
*Photo Credit: Fars News