Mohsen Salehi, euronews :
“How can Iran and Europe co-operate on the environment? What are the consequences of the Donald Trump presidential win in America for Iran ? How will Iran’s own 2017 leadership election go? To answer these questions euronews is talking to Masoumeh Ebtekar, the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic and head of the Iranian Environmental department.”
Biography: Masoumeh Ebtekar
- She was born in Tehran, 21 September 1960
- Ebtekar was spokeswoman of the students who took hostages and occupied the US Embassy in 1979
- She has a doctorate in immunology
- Ebtekar is the first female Vice President of Iran
- She was named one of the seven 2006 Champions of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Program
“You have come to Brussels to negotiate with the EU authorities on environmental questions. How can Europe help in this field?”
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President of Iran :
“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 the environmental challenges.”
“How exactly can Europe help Iran to cope with drought, and the drying-up of Lake Ourmia or the Zayanderud river?"
“The first and most important thing is information exchange. 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 press 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%.”
“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 the parties concerned recognise 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 a free and fair election in which any party or political organisation that recognises the Islamic Republic’s constitution can stand. It is really important to organise 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 candidature. Dr. Rouhani is still the main candidate for the moderate reformist movement.”
“Mir Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Madame Zahrar Rahnavard, the leaders of Iran’s Green Movement are under house arrest without trial. One of Rouhani’s promises in his last election campaign was that these house arrests would end. So why hasn’t he kept his promise?”
“Dr. Rouhani, although President of the Republic, only has limited powers. He has made several attempts to resolve this problem, and they have succeeded in improving the situation.”
“When President Rouhani made this promise he already knew the legal hurdles he faced and how Iranian society works. He ran as a man of justice, a man who knew the law, and its legal challenges. He spoke of ending house arrest when he was aware of the problems and limits.”
“Yes, President Rouhani knew the situation and was aware that with several attempts, negotiations and lobbying he could improve the situation, which he certainly has done.
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 co-operate, which is in Iran’s best interests”.