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Iran backs multilateralism to counter regional, global challenges, President Raeisi says in key SCO summit speech

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi addresses the 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe on September 17, 2021. (Photo by

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi says the country’s foreign policy has always been based on supporting multilateralism and active participation in international organizations while playing a constructive role in countering regional and global challenges.

Raeisi made the remarks in an address to the 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe on Friday as the Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance agreed to grant its full membership to Iran.

“The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been based on active participation in international organizations, multilateralism and opposition to unilateralism based on justice, cooperation, mutual respect and the need to play a constructive role in facing international and regional challenges,” the president said.

He added that the world has entered a new era where hegemony and unilateralism are on the decline.

The international system, the president said, is changing towards polarization and redistribution of power in favor of independent countries.

He emphasized that challenges such as terrorism, extremism and separatism are currently posing a threat to international peace and security.

“As in the not-so-distant past, Asia is at the center of global change. Maintaining and strengthening peace in this vast area is not a choice but a necessity. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its ‘governing spirit’ i.e mutual trust, common interests, equality, mutual consultation, respect for cultural diversity and common development are key tools for maintaining peace in the 21st century,” Raeisi said.

Collective efforts needed to counter international woes

Raeisi further stressed the importance of improving collective efforts on the international level to resolve global many challenges.

“The first challenge is the coronavirus pandemic, which not only targets the health of the nations but also has significant social, economic, political and security consequences.”

He hailed efforts made by the SCO members, especially China, Russia and India, to help global vaccination, and said any disruption to the process of assisting humans’ health under the pretext of sanctions is against the principles of human rights and amounts to a crime against humanity.

Describing sanctions as economic terrorism, he said they are the hegemonic powers' most important tool to impose their own will on others.

“Sanctions or economic terrorism are among key obstacles to promoting regional harmony. The SCO needs to design structures and mechanisms for a collective response to sanctions,” the Iranian president said.

He warned that unilateral sanctions are not limited to one country, but as it has become clear in recent years, they include more independent countries, particularly the SCO member states.

“It is important and necessary to design mechanisms for collective confrontation with unilateral sanctions in the framework of this organization,” the Iranian president emphasized.

He noted that insecurity impedes development and terrorism hinders sustainable economic growth.

“With a history of more than 40 years of relentless confrontation and fight against terrorism and extremism, the Islamic Republic of Iran has rendered worthy services for the realization of peace and justice in West Asia.”

Raeisi said Iran has been an ally of Iraq and Syria in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group while the strategic partnership between Iran and Russia in the battle against terrorism in Syria was a valuable experience and a successful model of cooperation with other partners in the future.

“I extend my hand of cooperation to all countries participating in this summit for the realization of peace and alliance in the fight against terrorism and extremism. We need collective action to ensure security and justice as key infrastructures for development and progress,” he said.

Raeisi criticized the United States for show-fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than two decades which only resulted in the loss of many opportunities for the two countries to provide security and prosperity for their people, saying Washington has been exporting this unsuccessful model to Syria for several years.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes in common security and does not consider security to be segregated. The way to ensure common security is an indigenous way, which is possible only with the participation of regional powers and without foreign intervention,” the president stated.

US, allies to blame for Afghanistan situation

Elsewhere in his speech, Raeisi said the United States and its allies shoulder full responsibility for the current situation in Afghanistan, calling on regional countries to prepare the ground for the Afghan people to overcome their problems and chart a path to a secure future.

“The Islamic Republic believes that this will be achieved only through the assistance of the countries of the region to the effective participation of all ethnic groups in the future governance of Afghanistan. Naturally, the countries of the region only have a facilitating role. Foreign intervention in Afghanistan adds to the problems and, ultimately, leads to instability in that country.”

He once again reiterated Iran’s readiness to devote all its efforts to the establishment of an “inclusive, comprehensive and independent” government in Afghanistan like all the difficult years in the past.

He, however, emphasized that the realization of such a goal cannot take place by only one country and “requires joint and organized work in the form of regional mechanisms.”

Nothing can stop Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities

The Iranian president also said ensuring the Iranian people’s peaceful nuclear rights can guarantee the common interests of developing countries.

“Nothing can stop Iranian's peaceful nuclear activities, which are carried out within the framework of international regulations,” Raeisi added.

He noted that diplomacy can be effective in securing the national interests of countries only when all parties adhere to it in practice.

Emphasizing that the lifting of sanctions is an inalienable right of the Iranian people, he added that Tehran “does not consider any process that violates this right to be in the interests of the Iranian people.”

Raeisi stated that Iran respects the “independent actions of the SCO member states and the non-recognition of the US unilateral sanctions and non-compliance with its illegal sanctions policies and considers strengthening bilateral cooperation, especially in the economic field, as an important factor in promoting the SCO strategic role in the global economy.”

Concluding his speech, the Iranian president said the SCO member countries can use the existing methods to achieve and promote peace and security based on diplomacy and boost comprehensive interaction on the basis of justice and spirituality by relying on their deep-rooted history of civilization.

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