Former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says that Iran is an important nation in the region and the West should take it seriously.
“Any opening to reconstitute 5+1 talks and to have contacts between the Iranian government and the United States administration could be very helpful,” said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in an interview with the Fars News Agency.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). He served as the 11th Secretary General of NATO. He previously served as a Member of the House of Representatives from June 3, 1986 until May 23, 2002, and became the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands and CDA Party leader on March 27, 1997.
He also served as foreign minister in Jan Peter Balkenende’s cabinet. He resigned as Minister of Foreign Affairs on December 3, 2003 when he was selected as the next Secretary General of the NATO, he served as Secretary General from January 5, 2004 until August 1, 2009. After his term as NATO Secretary General ended, De Hoop Scheffer became a professor at the Leiden University sitting in the Pieter Kooijmans Chair. He also teaches at Leiden University College.
Pointing to the new administration winning the election in Iran recently, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer argues that “in Iran I see a new president and a new minister of foreign affairs. I hear that the new president and the minister of foreign affairs in Iran use a language that the previous Iranian administration didn’t use. That gives some hope.”
“And that’s why I am telling my American friends not to immediately say ‘we do not talk to the Iranians because we have a major problem with them on enrichment of uranium,” he adds.
The former Secretary General of NATO believes that Syria is an area that Iran and West can cooperate. He says, “An Iranian constructive position and approach on the whole Syrian issue might make other difficult questions on the table easier to solve.”
“The fact is that I do see a president and foreign minister who at least should be tested. We preach a more open attitude vis-a-vis the West”, he maintains
De Hoop Scheffer emphasizes on Iran and West talks. He thinks Iran and the US need to engage through talks.
“I have been a diplomat all my life. It seems Iranian president understands diplomacy. Diplomacy doesn’t mean you are going to talk to your friends but rather you are going to talk to your opponents or enemies. So In my mind, any opening to reconstitute 5+1 talks and to have contacts between the Iranian government and the United States administration could be very helpful.”, he says.
De Hoop Scheffer who is also a professor at the Leiden University sees a hope in finding a solution to the Iranian nuclear program issue provided that the West should take Iran seriously. He put it this way, “The big elephant in the room is the nuclear enrichment program of Iran. I do sincerely hope that a solution can be found. It means that the West should take Iran seriously. Iran is an important nation and has great importance and possibility in the region. I was in a conversation very critical about Iran’s support to Hezbollah. I think that’s wrong and unacceptable. That means the West should take Iran seriously and Iran should take the West and The United States seriously. That is the only way of moving peace forward.”