Iran in the international system - short report

by Hannes Swoboda

At a meeting with work shop character in Vienna at the IIP experts from Iran and some EU countries and the USA discussed the role of Iran in the international system. A lively discussion showed the necessity and usefulness of the dialogue across ideological and continental borders.


All participants deplored the cancellation of the nuclear agreement JPCOA by President Trump. Whatever his motivation has been it gave the wrong signals to Iranians and Europeans alike. Pacta sunt servanda is an old Roman proverb which nevertheless should be respected also today.

The Iranian experts expected the EU to compensate some of the damage done by the unilateral cancellation of the JPCOA. But that would be an illusion, countered some of the European experts. It cannot be expected from the EU to compensate US unilateral measures. It will be difficult enough to compensate the damage done to European companies.

But irrespective of the condemnation of Trumps policies especially the American experts pleaded for a new and more realistic approach of the Iranian leadership towards the US. The USA is a global player which one could not like but which any country has to recognize as a matter of fact. And the same is true of Israel. The history of US interventions should not be a burden for Iran’s foreign policy for ever. Iran would have to decide if its foreign policy should be more influenced by national interest or by the Islamic - Shiite– ideology.


The revolutionary approach concerning the Palestinians does not help to create trust in the peaceful attitude of Iran. On the other side the Iranians complained about the Saudi Arabian animosity towards Iran. And often Saudi Arabia acts in accordance with the USA and even with Israel. But as the recent elections in Lebanon showed negative actions of the Saudis like taking hostage of the Lebanon premier resulted in stronger support for Hisbollah. And it was not Iran which supported terrorist organizations like ISIS. And concerning the dreadful situation in Yemen the Houthis do not rely on Iranian help to regain power in that country.

In addition the Iranians argued that Iran is one of those few countries which is relying on its own security arrangement without alliances. Therefore it has to care for a neighborhood which is not hostile to its existence, independence and political system. It has a long history of being a regional actor and can be proud about its resistance against intervening and colonial powers. Iran is proud of its independence and will not make any compromises.

Concerning the economic situation the sanctions have definitely had a very negative effect. But nevertheless Iran must try to reorganize the economy in a way which is supporting the economic and social interests of the citizens and which would create a viable middle class. That would also be helped by foreign investment going into Iran. And in this respect a more realistic foreign policy would also improve the economic situation of the Iranian economy.

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