Iran and Poland Mull Revival of Age-Old Relations

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Visit Seasoned with Political Consultations and Economic Motivations

Samad Ali Lakzadeh
Islamic Republic of Iran's Ambassador to Poland & Iran's Accredited Ambassador to Lithuania

Unlike what many people may think, Iran's relations with Poland are among the oldest relations that the Islamic Republic has ever had with any European country. The year 2014 marks the 540th anniversary of the establishment of political relations between the two countries the main foundations for which had been laid in 1474; that is, long before the Safavid dynasty and under the rule of Aq Qoyunlu. During many centuries following the outset of the two countries’ relations, the exchange of political, diplomatic, economic, religious and even military delegations has continued without interruption. Even during the period that Poland was occupied and was finally disintegrated, cultural relations between Warsaw and Tehran continued unabated. During the 16th century, Polish nobles and aristocrats, who especially lived in southeastern part of the country, made considerable efforts to revive their Iranian origin, which is known as Sarmatism or Sarmatianism. The Sarmatians were a confederacy of predominantly Iranian tribes living north of the Black Sea many centuries before Christ. They had immigrated to Central Europe from the northwestern parts of the Achaemenid Empire and settled in a region which is now known as Poland. The first translation of Golestan, the famous poetic work of the world-known Iranian poet, Sa'di, into a European language took place about three centuries ago when it was translated into Polish.

During the long period in which the division of Poland took place and which lasted more than a century (from 1795 to 1918), Iran was one of two countries in the world which never recognized that division. Iran even had an honorary consul in Warsaw before the independence of Poland in 1918. Isidor Brofsky, a brave army officer of polish stock, laid down his life in defense of Iran's territorial integrity during the siege on the city of Herat in 1838, and, thus, turned into a common heritage for both nations. Almost a century later and during the World War II, when Poland was once again under the occupation (from 1942 up to the end of the war), Iran was, for four years, the main route for saving more than 120,000 Polish immigrants who had been liberated from Siberian concentration camps following Hitler’s attack on Russia. The central Iranian city of Isfahan was the main place where Polish orphans, who had lost their parents during this great immigration, were gathered and, thus, it came to be known as the “city of Polish children.” After the immigrants went back to Poland, the education of Persian language and Persian studies were vogue in the most creditable university of the country in the city of Kraków. Similar courses were also launched at the University of Warsaw. Now, more than 70 years after that incident and through efforts made by the offspring of those immigrants, the commemoration plaque of that event is to be unveiled in my presence during the current week at one of Warsaw’s squares. During the ceremony, Iranians will be lauded for having played host to Polish immigrants during the aforesaid period.

Following the collapse of the Communism and subsequent to the accession of Poland to the NATO and the European Union (EU), economic relations between Warsaw and Tehran, which were mostly state-sponsored, gradually decreased as Poland gave priority in such relations to new European and Western partners. As a consequence of dwindling economic ties, political and cultural interactions between the two countries also changed.

There was a small street in the Polish capital city of Warsaw which had been named after the Iranian capital, Tehran. That name was erased from the map following the aforesaid developments. However, during all the years that the European Union has been imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran, although Poland, as a new member of the EU, has been forced to follow suit with the collective decisions made by member states, it never took a first step to initiate any hostile or unfriendly measures against Iran. On the contrary, Warsaw has even tried to tone down tension in Iran's relations with the European Union by taking appropriate measures. For example, when most European countries had stopped supplying fuel to Iranian passenger airliners, the government of Poland answered positive to Iran's fuel request – though the Iran Air did not take good advantage of that opportunity. In another case, when the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK were making intense efforts to get new sanctions approved against Iran during the EU’s foreign ministers meeting in Cyprus (when Cyprus was rotational chair of the EU), the only opposite voice came from the Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. During that period, when according to an unwritten law, any visit to Iran by European officials higher than deputy ministers had been banned, the Polish culture minister visited Iran two times, and its foreign minister also paid a single visit to the Islamic Republic. Of course, due to pressure from third states, such visits did not continue. However, a parliamentary friendship group with Iran was formed at Poland’s parliament during the same period after a six-year delay and its counterpart was also launched by the Iranian parliamentarians.

At present, following the establishment of [new Iranian President] Dr. [Hassan] Rouhani’s administration of foresight and hope, and in view of recent agreement reached in the Swiss city of Geneva [between Iran and the six world powers], Mr. Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, has become the fourth foreign minister out of 28 member states of the EU who is visiting Iran. His visit started on Friday, February 28, 2014, and will continue until March 2, during which a high-ranking delegation comprising political and economic officials of Poland will hold talks with various officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition to conducting political consultations on the most important regional and international issues of interest to both countries, the Polish delegates will also discuss with Iranian officials ways of further developing and deepening bilateral relations in all political, economic and cultural spheres. Poland strongly believes in Iran's undeniable role in resolving regional crises in the Middle East and its neighboring regions and looks upon Tehran as a reliable, stable and secure partner in this part of the world.

This is why just one month after the ongoing visit of the Polish foreign minister – more precisely in early May –, the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of economic affairs will visit Tehran heading a delegation consisting of 50 members who will be either representatives or officials of Poland’s biggest companies and most important economic institutions. Poland is the sixth European power with a vast area and big population among 28 EU member states, which is trying hard to redefine its role and establish its deserved position within the European Union. On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a powerful country in the Middle East region and neighboring regions, enjoys abundant energy resources and huge human and economic potentials. In view of their capabilities, the two countries are trying to revive their brilliant relations of the past and, in the near future, turn into the most reliable economic partners for each other.

Key Words: Iran, Poland, Revival of Relations, Political Consultations, Economic Motivations, Polish Immigrants, European Union, NATO, Hassan Rouhani, Sikorski, Lakzadeh

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم