Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan
By Kourosh Ziabari
The trilateral summit of the Presidents of three Persian-speaking countries of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan wrapped up on August 5 in Tehran and recorded another unforgettable event in the memory of the three brother nations. With innumerable cultural, religious, social, lingual and strategic commonalities, the three countries of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan have demonstrated their potentiality to build one of the strongest diplomatic partnerships in the region and benefit the world nations through a unique, fruitful and constructive cooperation.
The people of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, whose countries were parts of the Greater Persia in ancient times, consider Iran as their cultural homeland and believe that the Iranian nation is the inheritor of their paternal legacy, the Persian civilization.
I had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with the Tajikistan ambassador in Tehran for the local weekly magazine last month in which I discovered for the first time that the roots of cordiality and affinity between Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan are so deep and robust that one can hardly imagine. The Tajikistani ambassador Ramadan Mirza talked of Iran so enthusiastically and passionately that I felt for a while that he is in actuality more Iranian than I am. He called Iran a brother nation several times, talked of Tehran as an ancient and respectable city, paid homage to the antiquity and preciousness of Persian language as the common heritage of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan and told me of his early childhood’s aspiration of visiting Iran. He told me that when, under the soviet dominance, he was attending the high school in Tajikistan, he read about the historical sites of Iran such as the mausoleum of Persian poet Saadi, the tomb of Cyrus the Great or the ancient site of Persepolis in his school textbooks and since then, it became his ambition to visit these sites one day. He said that when he was selected to his mission as the Tajikistan ambassador in Tehran, his 50-year-long dream came true and he finally succeeded in visiting the sites which seemed to him unreachable and inaccessible long ago. Mr. Mirza told me that it is his honor to serve as his country’s ambassador in Tehran where he can freely visit the four corners of Iran whenever he likes.
It was in this interview that Mr. Mirza revealed for the first time that the Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon has formally asked his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Nowrouz festival of 2011 be held in Persepolis which is actually the native soil of Nowrouz.
Nowrouz is a set of ancient festivities held at the beginning of vernal equinox to mark the commencement of new solar year.
He also pointed to the fact the despite the longstanding dominance of Russia over the newly-established state of Tajikistan, the Tajik people has never forgotten their maternal Persian language. It’s noteworthy that since Tajikistan was separated from the Greater Persia during the Russo-Persian wars of 1860s, the Soviet rulers launched a de-Persianization project in Tajikistan where almost everyone would speak Persian and write in the Iranian alphabet. The history of Russia’s relations with Iran narrates the bitter story that the Eastern superpower never dealt with Iran in a sincere, truthful and loyal manner. Traditionally, the Iranian nation thinks of Russia as a betraying, hypocritical and oppressive state which has shown its hostility towards the Southern neighbor on various occasions. One clear instance is the de-Persianization project in which the national media outlets, schools, public offices and universities of Tajikistan were banned from using the Persian alphabet and forced to employ Cyrillic alphabet instead. This was an artificial and uninteresting incorporation of the Russian culture into Tajikistan which had been an inseparable constituent of Iran’s large puzzle of cultural heritage since the establishment of Achaemenid dynasty 2500 years ago.
Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan have the capability to form a powerful political coalition. They share the same language, religion and cultural background and this is something which is a rarity in the contemporary world. They have common ideological objectives and since they’ve historically suffered from the subjugation of the superpowers, they seek independence and freedom. The closeness of the three countries is evident in their broad collaborations in various fields including academic exchanges, agricultural cooperation, military ties, financial relations and cultural collaborations. The three countries are slated to launch a trilateral Persian-language TV channel which is based in Dushanbe and will be broadcasting programs produced by each party. A long railway will be connecting the three countries in near future. All of them are the members of Organization of Islamic Conference and Non-Aligned Movement. They also sit at the same table in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as member states.
The joint declaration of the fourth summit of the heads of states of Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Republic of Tajikistan was compiled in 14 articles and signed by the three presidents who have planned to hold the fifth joint meeting in Afghanistan in 2011.
In the 5th article, the three brother countries emphasized the importance of trilateral financial relations and highlighted the expansion of economic transactions through empowering and assisting the merchants and investors of each country.
In the 7th article, the three parties supported the development of cultural, scientific and educational cooperation and underscored the significance of joint planning for collaboration in the fields of culture, literature, history, common cultural heritage and sports.
In the 9th article, they announced their complete readiness to combat extremism, terrorism, organized crimes and drug trafficking which pose serious threats to the security and stability of the three countries.
In the 11th article, the three countries stressed the importance of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and underlined the inalienable right of the NPT member states to use the nuclear power for peaceful purposes under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The fifth joint summit of the presidents of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan will be held next year and its date will be announced very soon.
Overall, it seems that the expansion of relations between the three Persian-speaking countries who are bound together through ancient cultural ties will serve to meet the interests of the Central Asian and Middle Eastern nations and contribute to the sustainable and durable stability and development in the region.
Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist. He has interviewed political commentator and linguistNoamChomsky, member of New Zealand parliament Keith Locke, Australian politician Ian Cohen, member of German Parliament Ruprecht Polenz, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former U.S. National Security Council Advisor Peter D. Feaver, Nobel Prize laureate in Physics Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry Kurt Wüthrich, Nobel Prize laureate in biology Robin Warren, famous German political prisoner Ernst Zündel, Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, American author Stephen Kinzer, syndicated journalist Eric Margolis, former assistant of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, American-Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud, former President of the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sid Ganis, American international relations scholar Stephen Zunes, American singer and songwriter David Rovics, American political scientist and anthropologist William Beeman, British journalist Andy Worthington, Australian author and blogger Antony Loewenstein, Iranian geopolitics expert Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, American historian and author Michael A. Hoffman II and Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon
Ziabari is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.
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