Peter Tejler said Sweden is thankful to President Hassan Rouhani’s proposal to the UN in 2013 in which he called for a ‘World against Violence and Extremism’ which was later approved as a UN resolution known as WAVE.
The Swedish ambassador was among the participants at the WAVE conference in Tehran on December 9 and 10.
"Sweden appreciates Dr. Rouhani’s speech on fighting violence and extremism and looks forward to Iran’s constructive engagement in this regard,” Ambassador Tejler said.
Below is the full text of the interview:
What is your assessment of economic, political and technical ties between Sweden and Iran and can these relations be expanded?
Sweden and Iran enjoy good relations in many fields. We have strong historical bonds. The first Swede who is known by name came to this part of the world and arrived in Isfahan in 1616. In the beginning of the 20th century, just after the Constitutional revolution, Sweden assisted Iran in building up its modern police force, and its gendarmerie. One of the officers founded the first veterinary school in this country. The first Swedish diplomatic envoy resident in Tehran came in 1929. Relations have deepened during the years and today we have more than 100,000 people of Iranian descent living in Sweden. Through people to people contacts, views are exchanged, business conducted and cultural cooperation expanded. I am convinced that this trend will continue and that we can intensify contacts in various fields. And next year Team Melli will travel to Sweden to play against my national football team.
Would you please explain about possible areas for cooperation in protecting the environment?
Sweden has an ambitious environmental policy and targets. Sweden has shown that it is possible to combine economic progress and less environmental impact. At present Sweden has the highest percentage of renewable energy in the EU, over 47 percent. Sweden is also world-leading in water management. Climate change is a major concern and Sweden is actively engaged in the negotiations to achieve ambitious emission reduction within the EU and globally. Sweden has set the target to be fully climate neutral by 2050. The UN climate conference in Paris (COP21) in 2015 will be an important opportunity that should not be missed. Sweden and Iran could work together to achieve these objectives. Swedish companies specialized in environmental technology can contribute to improved environmental conditions in Iran. An important area is transport of goods and people. Swedish companies are well established in Iran and have continued their activities during the last few years. What are the prospects of relations between Tehran and Stockholm in the light of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group?
Sweden supports the negotiations and hopes that a mutual acceptable agreement eventually could be reached. Such an agreement would be good for Iran and good for the rest of the world, including Sweden. If an agreement is concluded, it would open many doors and Sweden-Iran trade and investment could be increased. How can Iran and Europe cooperate in the campaign against terrorists, especially ISIL which is doing savage acts in Iraq and Syria?
The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are human catastrophes. Sweden has contributed significantly to the humanitarian response in Syria and Iraq, totally more than 83 million USD in 2014. Furthermore Sweden is receiving many refugees from Syria. In 2014 alone more than 30,000 Syrians will ask for asylum in Sweden, as will some 5,000 Palestinians living in Syria. Sweden supports the coalition against ISIL and the fight against terrorism. However, ultimately a political solution must be found in Syria and Iraq that guarantees a democratic and inclusive government. Iran’s positive engagement in this regard is important. What are the roots of terrorism? Or what policies have led to the emergence and spread of terrorism?
Terrorism and extremism are often rooted in poverty, lack of education and authoritarian and non-inclusive societies. In many countries that suffer from terrorism, autocrats have ruled for an extended period of time without regard to the people’s freedom and wellbeing. Human rights have been violated and various groups have been favored over others. Free speech has been suppressed and extremists have been effective in spreading its propaganda through various channels. These factors have increased the potential for extremists to recruit people from vulnerable groups. The trend needs to be countered by providing education and jobs to the young, by promoting tolerance and dialogue over hatred and prejudice, by discontinuing funding for extremist organizations and by creating government structures that are inclusive and that uphold and protect all human rights. Sweden’s recognition of Palestine as an independent state is a highly appreciable move. What prompted Sweden to take such a courageous action? And can we expect this to be followed by other European states?
In addition to Sweden’s traditional strong ties with the State of Israel, we will from now on have a relationship of similar nature with the other partner in that two-state solution which is seen by the broad world community as the way to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.
More than 20 years have passed since the conclusion of the Declaration of Principles ("The Oslo Agreement”) that set the goal of the establishment of a Palestinian state within a near future. Yet, Palestine remains under occupation.
The international community has a particularly important role to reassure moderate Palestinians that it continues to stand by the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, in accordance with international law. There needs to be a viable alternative to violence, and to the current status quo, in order to prevent further escalation of tensions, radicalisation and resumed violence.
On the day of the recognition of the State of Palestine, the Swedish government also adopted a five year development cooperation strategy in support of Palestinian state building and with the aim of meeting the rights and needs of the Palestinians in order to enable them to live and stay in all parts of their land. What is your opinion about the Iranian history and culture, Persian literature, and tourist attractions? Which Persian poet draws your attention the most?
Persian history is fascinating and Iran/Persia has contributed greatly to the heritage of mankind. The country also has a great number of tourist attractions, in particular its 17 UNESCO world heritage sites. It would be unfair to single out one Persian poet before others, so that question will remain unanswered, and open for further exploration and experiences.
What is your opinion about President Hassan Rouhani’s proposal to the UN in 2013 in which he called for a united world against violence and extremism?
Sweden appreciates Dr. Rouhani’s speech on fighting violence and extremism and looks forward to Iran’s constructive engagement in this regard. More needs to be done to fight extremism while ensuring the respect for human rights and freedoms; and in this fight the international cooperation is key, as is the role of the United Nations. A blame game and the unwillingness or inability to recognize and address your own shortcomings exacerbates the necessary cooperation. Sweden is a candidate for the UN Security Council 2017-2018. Sweden is a major donor to the United Nations system, a strong defender of international public law and has a long track record in peace building and disarmament. Because of this we strongly believe that Sweden, as a member of the Security Council, could contribute to the fight against violence and extremism and to building international peace and security.