Opening of Scientific Diplomacy between Iran and Europe

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fatemeh Doleh
IRNA Research and News Analysis Group

The removal of nuclear sanctions and relative diplomatic opening following the Vienna agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, has not only led to the expansion of Iran's regional cooperation, but also provided a new opportunity for Iran's interaction with other countries. It has also created an opening in the country’s foreign relations, especially with European states following many years of tension. Frequent visits to Iran by European delegations and their efforts to expand political, economic, scientific and cultural ties with Iran, which started soon after the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and have continued up to the present time are good evidence to this fact.

In addition to national self-reliance, the country’s development and progress in the global arena will also need expansion of positive interaction in the field of foreign and international policy, and realization of such interaction not only requires certain political and economic factors, but also scientific and cultural investment at global and international levels.

The arrival of the biggest European scientific delegation from Austria, which sought expansion of scientific and cultural relations with Iran, not only signifies high scientific and cultural capacity of the Islamic Republic for the expansion of international cooperation, but also delineates a promising outlook for sustainable prosperity of the country.

Given the important effect of scientific relations on foreign policy of the country and in view of the role that they can play in prosperity and opening up of the scientific space of Iran, the following points should be taken into consideration:

1. In terms of science, history, anthropology, handicrafts, human capital and so forth, Iran enjoys numerous abilities and advantages, though the role played by science and technology is more significant due to their impact on the progress and advance of the country. However, real prosperity and dynamism in this field requires taking advantage of the existing opportunities and adoption of suitable approaches both inside and outside the country.

In view of this issue and due to scientific and cultural richness of the country, development and strengthening of Iran's diplomacy at global and international levels, especially with countries that have common grounds for scientific investment, can eliminate obstacles on the way of Iran and lead to prosperity of the country.

2. During past years, Iran has achieved great progress in various scientific fields, but the country has been also facing many bottlenecks and hardships due to conditions brought about by sanctions imposed on it. All told, expansion of scientific relations with the world, especially with Europe, which is home to the most important universities of the world, can lead to further prosperity and growth of science and technology in Iran. This is true as scientific achievements and research facilities need comparison, updating and sharing of information in order to achieve their maturity, and this can be possible through strengthening of the country’s public diplomacy.

In the meantime, an Austrian delegation consisting of the country’s university professors and scientific figures has traveled to Iran as one of the biggest European scientific delegations to visit Iran so far. This visit could be a turning point in the development of relations and scientific dynamism of the two countries. Taking advantage of bilateral scientific capabilities of the two countries will not only reduce the existing problems and obstacles, but also lead to qualitative and quantitative development of science and technology.

3. Quite recently, the Science magazine published an article on Iran's scientific advances in its September 3, 2015 issue, saying that after sanctions and restrictions against Iran are lifted, the country would see a new era of scientific prosperity and advancement. In view of this issue and also in the light of Iran's powerful nuclear diplomacy, more scientific and academic delegations from European countries are visiting Iran these days and this issue, in addition to existence of new grounds for the exchange of scientific achievements, academics and students, will greatly boost Iran's capabilities in this field. It will also help create more maneuvering room for the country’s scientific diplomacy in addition to the aforementioned political and economic opening.

During the visit by the Austrian scientific delegation to Iran, which included presidents and professors, and in general, scientific elites of important Austrian universities, signing of agreements were on both sides’ agendas, which according to officials of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology, are focused on the exchange of professors and students, granting of scholarships, and sharing research facilities. In this way, such visits will pave the way for the creation of suitable grounds for scientific cooperation between Iran and Europe.

4. Bolstering scientific and technological base and increasing the scientific power and influence of Iran at regional and global levels are the main goals that have been set for the country’s scientific sector and it is noteworthy that in addition to political diplomacy and economic interaction, every country needs public diplomacy as well. On the other hand, development of a country is not linear, one-dimensional, imbalanced and simply qualitative, but it must be overarching, balanced and qualitative, and this is why these dimensions of scientific progress must be taken into consideration when making plans and policies. Since in the light of its positive political interaction with the world, Iran has once again become a focus for the establishment of amicable relations by world countries, especially European states, using the diplomacy of science and technology can turn the existing challenges in the country into fortes and also change threats into opportunities, thus leading to growing prosperity in the country’s scientific and cultural spheres.

5. European universities are one way or another affected by political decisions made by the European Union and this was why under conditions of sanctions, Iran's scientific relations with Europe had greatly waned. The signing of JCPOA and gradual lifting of sanctions has not only brought about a major opening in Iran's political and economic diplomacy, but also caused European universities to welcome new conditions for expanding their scientific relations with Iran. This situation will not only uplift the quality of science, research and technology available to Iranian universities, but also enable European universities to work with their Iranian counterparts in such areas as Islamic studies, linguistics, archeology, and some technical disciplines.

Given the fact that countries generally emphasize the need to bolster academic economy in their scientific sectors, creation of the aforesaid conditions will help Iranian and European universities share their resources and facilities, on the one hand, while paving the way for globalization and internationalization of Iranian science and technology, on the other hand.

Science and technology, along with economy and politics, constitute an important dimension of Iran's development outlook, which would be realized not in conditions of isolation, but through interaction as well as effective and two-way contacts with the world. Before the conclusion of JCPOA, the world saw Iran as a threat to regional and global security and had cut its relations with Iran not only in political and economic fields, but also in the field of science. At present, due to suitable conditions that exist at international level, Iran has once again become a subject for political, economic and scientific cooperation in the world and the visit to Iran by the biggest European scientific delegation has taken place along this line and is an important step toward development of the country’s scientific diplomacy and prosperity of its abilities.

Key Words: Iran, Europe, Scientific Diplomacy, P5+1, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Scientific Delegation, Austria, Lifting Sanction, Iranian Science and Technology, European Universities, Doleh

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: Fars News