Blue Map of Asia. The URL of the reference to map is: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/time_zones_ref_2011.pdf. In addition - some city locations were taken from: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/txu-oclc-264266980-world_pol_2008-2.jpg.
In the neighborhood policy, the discussion that should be mainly taken into account is that whether the country Iran considers it to be its neighbor, considers Iran as a neighbor or not, since the neighborhood is a two-way issue. For example, while Iran views Kazakhstan as its neighbor, this country does not consider Iran as one. So the neighborhood is a two-way debate, and this is the first noteworthy component in the neighborhood policy. This policy has several main components including:
- Neighborhood policy does not just involve the neighborhood diplomacy, meaning when it comes to the neighborhood policy, it covers a wider framework than just the diplomacy.
- Neighborhood policy is a country’s policy, not just the policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meaning as much as this Department is responsible for pursuing this policy, other institutions must also put this policy on their agenda to follow. One of the problems that Iran faces in dealing with its neighbors is the dichotomy between its diplomatic apparatus and that of its neighbors.
- Neighborhood policy is based on economics not security, meaning first the economic and then the security link with the neighbors is sought.
- Neighborhood policy is the use of the country’s territorial capacities to connect it to its neighbors, and to connect neighbors themselves through Iran as well as to connect neighbors to other countries. For example, Iran can lie at the heart of the neighborhood policy to not only communicate with its neighbors, but also enable neighbors to communicate with each other. By doing so, Iran will become a strong linking bridge for neighborhood relations.
- In the neighborhood policy, the neighbor should be satisfied with playing the role of a neighbor, otherwise, this policy will not proceed.
- Neighborhood policy relies on regulatory not complementary capacities, meaning these policies are not meant to complete relations, but to regulate them. For example, Iran- Pakistan relations are based on regulatory policies that are formed according to conditions. Regulatory policies are also seen in Iran’s relations with Turkey, Greece and Azerbaijan.
- Neighborhood policy regulates the maintenance of the status quo and the stability of the region and borders that must be achieved on the basis of an agreement between the neighbors, meaning neighbors must reach a fundamental agreement on these issues.
- Neighborhood policy is considered to be the strategic belt around the country, meaning it should be accepted that a kind of coherent relations with the neighbors be established around the country.
- Although neighborhood policy is formed based on geopolitical considerations, it is established based on historical and civilization components.
- Neighborhood policy is regulated according to high-level documents, vision document and development plans, and has appendices for classification, and the policies are defined as specific for each country.
Iran now has geopolitical considerations for its neighbors, including Turkey. But if Iran and its neighbors can enter the area of civilization, the situation will improve. Neighborhood policy has its appendices for classification, meaning policies toward the neighbors are different, as Iran’s policy toward countries varies from one country to another. For example, Iran’s policies toward the Arab countries should be different from those toward Central Asian countries. Neighborhood policy requires establishing a proper structure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other sectors to be implemented. The neighborhood policy is not what has been followed today, and its examples can also be found in the history, including neighborhood policies of Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union and Japan, which, of course, did not succeed. They eventually failed, because they sought to create a strong country in a region instead of creating a strong region, while the neighborhood policy should seek to create a strong region.
At the moment, Iran’s neighborhood policy is aligned with the high-level documents, which means Iran is seeking to create a strong region. To some extent, the policies of the European Union, Russia and China can be referred to as successful experiences of neighborhood policy. Europe thinks its security lies in the security of its neighbors, meaning the EU countries are working together to improve the living standards of their neighbors so that they can have a minimum living standards at a level that the EU feels less threatened by them.
In Russia’s neighborhood policy, although the Russians do not have the EU economic capacity, at the same time, they enjoy geopolitical and geostrategic components on which they rely in their neighborhood policy. Russia is trying to integrate its neighbors in the neighborhood policy through the structure-building (Customs Union, Eurasian Union, etc.) and capacity-building.
China’s neighborhood policy is considered as one of the successful models, and the Chinese are currently pursuing serious policies in this regard. They said they had come to the conclusion that the United States intended to surround them through their neighbors, and they broke this blockade through their neighbors. To do so, they had to proceed so that they their neighbors felt that they were contributing to China’s investments. China’s mediation in resolving the differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan can also be seen in the framework of China’s neighborhood policy.
Iran must also pursue its desired neighborhood policy by studying the successful experiences of neighborhood policy and paying attention to its unique geopolitical conditions and the area of its civilization which goes beyond borders. At the moment, Iran’s cultural sphere goes beyond borders, and this is considered an advantage for it which must be used properly in the neighborhood policy, and if Iran defines the economics-oriented neighborhood policy, this country will be much more successful.
© Iranian Diplomacy
Rasoul Mousavi, an Iranian distinguished career diplomat, is the senior fellow at IRAS.
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