News ID: 174331
Published: 0704 GMT December 23, 2016

Pollution, Rouhani's chances and Trump: Iran’s vice president looks forward to 2017

Pollution, Rouhani's chances and Trump:  Iran’s vice president looks forward to 2017

How can Iran and Europe cooperate on the environment? What are the consequences of the Donald Trump presidential win in America for Iran? How will Iran’s 2017 presidential election go? To answer these questions euronews talked to Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president of the Islamic Republic and head of Iran’s Department of the Environment.

“You have come to Brussels to negotiate with the EU authorities on environmental questions. How can Europe help in this field?”

“Ecology is today a global problem. I want to say that every state, every nation is in some way responsible for the environment’s current state. They are sort of obliged to act together to face environmental challenges.”

“How exactly can Europe help Iran to cope with drought, and the drying-up of Orumieh  Lake or the Zayanderud River?”

“The first and most important thing is the exchange of information. Then we need to co-operate on projects and common management mechanisms. Joint ventures need to be governed by international and regional conventions for the good of all, not just for the signatories of any such agreements.”

“During the period of nuclear sanctions Iran produced its own petrol from its own refineries for the domestic market, but it was toxic and carcinogenic. How many lives did it cost over the period?”

“I don’t have the exact number, nobody can give one in answer to such a question. But what is for sure is that this was damage caused to Iran by the sanctions, which deprived us of the latest refining technology”.

“You say that you don’t have the exact number, but in an interview given to the Mehr News Agency, after the Cop 22 in Marrakesh, you said that ‘The Health Ministry has shown that the number of deaths decreased significantly from 2012 to 2014.’ What is the figure?”

“Look, in the different reports only approximate figures are given. They’re rough estimates; no one has the real figures.”

“So, what is this approximate figure?”

“I think it’s been cut by half. What I mean is that over the last few years a combination of our policy to improve refining and better-quality vehicles on the roads means the number of deaths attributable to air pollution is down by 50 percent.”

“Now some questions about how your domestic policies will be affected by one international relationship. America. With Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, do you think Iran’s nuclear deal is in danger? Are you worried that the positions he’s taken mean that it might be?”

“I think it’s too early to say. When politicians are campaigning they say one thing, but once in power they tend to moderate their language.

The nuclear deal is important for Iran, America, Europe and the international community, and I hope all parties concerned recognize its importance for world peace. However, it will need all those involved to face up to their responsibilities in making it work and keeping promises. What remains worrying is that Iran, which has always respected its commitments, is still waiting for others to do so and reciprocate.”

“Iran holds a presidential election next year. Does President Rouhani face any serious opposition in this vote?”

“First of all, I hope we can hold free and fair elections in which any party or political organization that recognizes the Islamic Republic’s Constitution can stand. It is really important to organize a clean election in which every citizen takes part.

It’s too early for me to say which candidate is well-positioned or not. But most of the moderate and reformist political groups are already on record saying they’ll support Rouhani. Just like in 2013 there is a consensus around his candidacy. President Rouhani is still the main candidate for the moderate, reformist movement.

“In Iran we need a lively and active political discourse; and President Rouhani’s government is trying to encourage this discourse on a national scale so that all parties and political movements can cooperate, which is in Iran’s best interests.”


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