MPs Call for Revamping Embassies

MPs Call for Revamping Embassies MPs Call for Revamping Embassies

Lawmakers have welcomed the new priorities of the incoming Foreign Ministry, including promotion of economic diplomacy, saying that for the plan to be effective, the structure of Iranian embassies should be reformed.

Veteran diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been proposed to the Majlis to take the helm of the Foreign Ministry for another four years, has put "economic diplomacy" on top of his agenda for a second term. He is expected to win a vote of confidence next week with consummate ease.

"In our foreign policy plan, we attach high importance to economic diplomacy and believe that the Foreign Ministry should be at the service of economic progress and people's livelihood," he said recently.

In a talk with ICANA on Sunday, lawmaker Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the embassies' structure is old and requires an overhaul.

There are a couple of obstacles hindering the performance of Iranian diplomatic missions in other countries, including "understaffed personnel, especially at the expert level, and the fact that all the attention is being given to political affairs", he said.

"Embassies' approaches must change in today's world. They must now be active in economic matters as well."

Lawmaker Shahrouz Barzegar called on Zarif to appoint diplomats who have the expertise necessary to carry out his economic policies, saying that "all the economic transactions are done through Foreign Ministry channels. We need diplomats who have economic skills."

He pointed to the historic nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reached with major powers in 2015 under Zarif watch, as an example that could be exploited to reap economic benefits.

"After getting the vote of confidence, Mr. Zarif must start exploiting JCPOA in terms of economy," Barzegar said.

The July 2015 nuclear deal lifted international sanctions in exchange for limits on Tehran's nuclear program. The deal was expected to enable President Hassan Rouhani to stimulate foreign investment and acquire technology needed to boost non-oil export, but the dividends have belied expectations due to the uncooperative approach of the US that is also a party to JCPOA.

Lawmaker Salman Khodadadi called for a meritocratic mechanism to choose ambassadors, saying envoys have to be elected from a group of candidates rather than just being selected by the foreign minister.

"The problem is that we have not looked for [qualified] ambassadors for embassies, but rather we have just filled the [positions in] embassies," he said.

Khodadadi also lamented that some ambassadors reportedly do not know the language and culture of their host countries, describing it as "unacceptable".

"The Foreign Ministry should employ graduates studying politics and international relations," he said.

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