Lausanne Statement: Positive and Negative Views

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hamid Ahmadi
Expert on International Issues

Following months of intense and unprecedented negotiations, at last seven global and regional powers, including Iran and the member states of the P5+1 countries, managed to find relative solutions to their differences and issued a statement, which has come to be known as the Lausanne statement. The Lausanne statement, in fact, sets the framework for a comprehensive agreement between the two sides, whose writing has not started yet. The statement has its own hopeful supporters and anxious opponents; staunch opponents who can be found from Tehran to Washington. The common denominator of all these opponents is their insistence on the idea that one of the sides in the nuclear negotiations must go down on its knees. They ignore the fact that the art of diplomacy is to shake hands standing, not to shatter the pride of one of the negotiating sides. Actually, if it was about going to war and bringing somebody to their knees, they would have not embarked on negotiations in the first place.

There is no doubt that the Lausanne statement is the sign of a special and positive development in contemporary international relations. This is an agreement which will reduce chances of another war in an already tumultuous Middle East region. Therefore, it cannot be anything, but an auspicious development. The importance of this agreement can be only understood when we would imagine a situation in which negotiations totally failed, the diplomacy raised its hands as a sign of surrender, and the two sides returned to their capitals with no result. Or just imagine who would have been happy in the chaotic region of Middle East if these negotiations grounded to a failure. As an Iranian, these two assumptions would be sufficient to make us content with what the Iranian negotiating team has achieved after months of talks and perseverance.

One week after the release of the Lausanne statement and at a time that early waves of happiness as well as domestic opposition at the statement have relatively ebbed, it is perhaps a better opportunity now to judge it and assess positive and negative reactions shown to it. The reaction shown by the public opinion in Iran and across the world to the Lausanne statement clearly proves that what happened in Lausanne has been generally welcomed, though regional reactions have been varied. It is evident that for ordinary people in Iran, there are three reasons why the Lausanne agreement, and the general course of talks in recent months, has been pleasing:

1. The fact that Iran has finally achieved an agreement with the P5+1;
2. A clearer prospect for the final lifting of anti-Iran sanctions; and
3. The relatively peaceful language that has been used by both Iran and the United States in recent months.

In fact, the positive social feedback and general satisfaction with the Lausanne agreement can be seen as a result of the aforesaid three reasons. Perhaps, the majority of the society is not sensitive about fine details of the negotiations and even what will be agreed in later stages of the talks. The public opinion’s attention to these three factors shows that an overall improvement in Iran's foreign relations with the world, which can have a positive effect on everyday life of people, is much more important to them than the details of the negotiations.

On the opposite, the critics, some of whom are outright opponents of the Lausanne agreement, rely on four issues to cast doubt on the efforts made by the Iranian negotiating team:

1. The perceived difference between the content of Persian and English texts of the statement as read out by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini;
2. Final fate of Fordow and Arak nuclear sites;
3. The number of centrifuges at Natanz facility; and
4. The timetable for the removal of sanctions.

Unlike the supporters, the opponents of the Lausanne statement have made premature judgments about the details of the agreement. The opponents and critics of the Lausanne agreement have resorted to the general principles on which a preliminary agreement has been reached in order to attack details that will be specified in coming months, when a comprehensive agreement is to be formulated. During the short period that has passed since the Lausanne statement was read out, Iran's foreign minister has been trying to give answers to the above four questions that have been raised by the opponents. This comes despite the fact that the foreign minister has also to focus on other issues related to the country’s foreign policy and has also to cope with major developments with which Iran's diplomatic apparatus has to deal with other than the nuclear talks. His answers should both satisfy the domestic public opinion, which supports the agreement, and reduce opposition to the statement, and most importantly, prevent opponents from doing or saying anything that may damage the future course of the negotiations. Fordow is to be converted into an advanced center for research and development in the field of nuclear science and Arak reactor will be redesigned while the number of active centrifuges at Natanz facility will stand at 5,000. All these changes mean that Iran will be able to take advantage of international cooperation in its nuclear activities, and also show that big powers have come to realize Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and withdraw from their past stance, which called for total dismantling of Iran's nuclear program.

Unlike what the opponents of the Lausanne agreement say, perhaps one of the most important strengths of the general agreement reached through the Lausanne statement is to put all kinds of nuclear-related sanctions, including international, multilateral and unilateral ones, within a single category and ask for their removal en masse once a comprehensive agreement is achieved.

The nuclear-related sanctions encompass a complicated and intertwined collection of restrictive measures, which have turned into an indispensable part of Iran's interactions and communications with the world. Despite unjust nature of these sanctions, many of them draw their legitimacy from resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council. Now, all of them have been seen as one and all of them will be removed through a predefined process after a final agreement is reached. This is, perhaps, the most important achievement of the Lausanne statement and the latest round of nuclear talks. The importance of this issue will be clear when one takes into account that Iran's nuclear program will continue after the final deal.

In a positive take on the differences that opponents of the Lausanne agreement claim to exit between its English and Persian texts, one may say that most of those differences is the result of linguistic discrepancies between English and Persian, or their different understanding of the Persian translation of the English statement, which was read out by Mogherini. It is very unlikely that the texts read out there were translations of each other. I mean, it is unlikely that one of the two texts, Persian or English, were drawn up as the main text and the other one was its translation. In addition, it should be noted that when an agreement is reached, it is only natural for each side to announce their own desirable interpretation of the agreement in their statement. Both sides should answer to their public opinion and tell people what they have gained through the negotiations.

Iran and the P5+1 group will start drafting the text of their final comprehensive agreement soon. In this very important stage and based on the frameworks and general outlines that the two sides have agreed upon, all details will be discussed through technical negotiations before being written. As a result, many ambiguities and questions that are now raised by the opponents of the statement will be answered when the final text of the comprehensive agreement is written. The subject that is being discussed by Iran and the P5+1 group is of such a high importance to regional and international security that allowing ambiguities in it will not benefit any of the two parties to the negotiations and, certainly, none of them wants to leave any vague points in the written text.

Existence of anxious opponents, along with a wide spectrum of those who support the Lausanne agreement, is quite natural. Just in the same way that the support accorded to the Iranian nuclear negotiators can motivate them and keep their spirits high, domestic opponents can be considered a good asset on which negotiators can reckon in their resistance against illegal demands of the opposite negotiating parties, especially the United States. Let’s not forget that the American negotiators are, in turn, under pressure from an unbending and inflexible Congress and they will use the staunch opposition of the Congress members as an asset to take concessions from Iran in their talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Perhaps, if some of those people who are critical of the performance of Iran's nuclear negotiating team had the experience of only one hour of talks at this level, they would have taken a different position on what Iranian negotiators have achieved after many months of intense talks.

Key Words: Lausanne Statement, Positive-Negative Views, Iran, P5+1, Comprehensive Agreement, Middle East Region, Anti-Iran Sanctions, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Federica Mogherini, Centrifuges, United Nations Security Council, Congress, Ahmadi

Source: Khabaronline
‏Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Hamid Ahmadi:

*Why Reaching Comprehensive Agreement Is Difficult for Iran and P5+1?:

*Photo Credit: Fars News

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم