Iranian authorities are bracing for a record low turnout in the presidential elections. Among those who boycott them is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The former president says the Guardian Council is ignoring a majority of the population, preventing both he and hundreds of other candidates from participating.
Anelise Borges, euronews: Iran is going to the polls this week at a crucial time for the country, domestically and internationally. May I start by asking your reaction to the Guardian Council’s decision to prevent you from running? And your opinion of what the selection of candidates says about Iran today?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Former President of Iran: Let me start by saying hello to you and your co-workers. And to those who will see, hear or read this program.
People had invited me to be a candidate this time. Large groups of citizens from all over the country insisted that I run as a candidate and I accepted it. But for no special reason, I was removed (ndlr, from the final candidate list). Today I feel the responsibility to support the interests of the people and reform the mechanism that made the will of the majority of the people excluded.
A.B: Why would I want to be president again? What do you think your country needs right now that you would be better able to provide?
M.A: As I said, this time people asked me to be a candidate. Millions of people from all over the country came to my house and participated in meetings; they sent letters and messages; they insisted that I sign up for the race. And then, to respond to the will of the people, I did. But I think Iran, like other parts of the world, needs fundamental reforms, as does the United States of America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. All countries need fundamental changes to fulfill people’s rights. Iran, like those countries, also needs fundamental changes. And I will always try to go in that direction.
A.B: May I ask you for more details about those reforms? What exactly would be put into practice if you had been given the opportunity to run for office?
M.A: Sovereignty belongs to the people. And the principle is that people should have complete freedom to determine their destiny and lifestyle.
Today, because people have been deprived of their rights, we are witnessing widespread poverty, growing inequality, domination, wars and disputes between nations. The arms race is an insult to human beings. I believe that this situation must change.
God has created all human beings from the same principle. Our God is the same. We can talk to him in all languages. We are all from the same family. We must live together. Human beings are created for friendship, cooperation, and love. They were not created for animosity and struggle and to plunder the wealth of others. The state of the world today does not appear to be guided by the principles of humanity. I believe that we must make fundamental changes in the world.
A.B: How do you see the outgoing administration? Do you think you have achieved something positive in the last 8 years?
M.A: We must ask people this question. Polls show that most people are dissatisfied with the government’s performance over the past eight years.
A.B: One of the greatest legacies of the Rohani administration is being re-negotiated … I mean the Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Do you think that negotiations should continue on the nuclear deal?
M.A: I think the current administration is far from reaching a conclusion. If the nuclear deal were to continue in its previous framework, it would eventually fail. In any agreement, both parties must respect the balance between commitments and responsibilities. We don’t see this in this deal. That is why it did not solve our problems. It has complicated the situation and made it more difficult to resolve. The agreement must follow international law, justice and respect mutual respect.
A.B: He speaks of mutual respect … he also spoke of peace and progress … those were the objectives of the agreement.
M.A: It is not like this. Let me give you an example. In each agreement, there is a section designed to resolve disputes. But here, six countries are against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. Under the agreement, dispute resolution must involve a council of seven countries (Iran and the other six signatories). Each country has one vote and each issue needs seven votes to be approved. That means that the rights of the Iranian people will never be enforced in the treaty. It is against international laws and rights. When there is no balance, no agreement can be fruitful. Trump withdrew from the treaty unilaterally and the other countries could not prevent him or continue with the rest of the treaty.
A.B: Do you feel that the European Union has failed Iran when it comes to these negotiations, in relation to the United States returning to the agreement?
M.A: We have a wish, but we don’t know if it can be achieved. We would like the EU to come out of the shadow of the United States. Europe could have good relations with Iran. And also the United States. I believe that cooperation is the fundamental principle. The mechanisms of the last hundred years can no longer continue, I mean the framework in which some countries are superior to others. This period is over. We must speak and cooperate as equals, with fairness and mutual respect.
No country should infringe the rights of another. This would be beneficial to all countries. I tell you that the condition of the world is changing rapidly. Colonialism has reached its last steps. The tendency to believe that some countries are superior to other countries is coming to an end. It goes against humanity. We must move towards friendship, understanding and equal rights. We must manage the world all together. The lack of balance between nations causes wars, arms races, gaps in social status and animosity. It makes nations separate from each other. I think we should work together. We must be friends with equal rights. We’re all human beings. Why is there a difference between people? We like to have friendly and respectful relationships with all nations like Europe and America. Relationships based on justice. The superpowers have never been able to guarantee the well-being of the people.
A.B: It talks about managing the world in peace and finding peaceful solutions. It is not an easy task. Especially with regard to how quickly politics is changing right now and the dynamics of the region, but also the world at large. The United States now has a new administration. Do you think there is hope that US-Iran relations will resume now that Joe Biden is president?
M.A: Sure there is a way, but the condition is that we recognize the rights of others. We must respect justice and mutual respect. The confrontation between countries is useless. People are the losers. Only capitalist groups benefit.
So yes, it is possible. But Biden must show that American policy has changed in concrete ways. As far as I know, US foreign policy is determined by some powerful people behind the scenes, and US presidents don’t have as much power (as we are led to believe). I hope fundamental changes will occur there. We would appreciate that change, and I think all nations would welcome a fundamental change in America’s foreign policy. I remember when Obama was a candidate, he promised to change these policies several times and the nations gave his approval. But sadly, he did not keep his promise and missed the opportunity. I hope that Mr. Biden seizes this opportunity. I believe that the educated elites of two countries will unite and solve the problem.
A.B: The whole world will be watching when the votes are counted at the end of this week. What is your message to the rest of the world regarding Iran’s ambitions going forward?
M.A: I think they should look at the Iranian people. They must respect the rights of other nations. Iran has a great people. Iran has history, culture and civilization. Iran will overcome the problems it currently faces. No one should count on Iran’s temporary problems to impose a problem on Iran or violate its rights. They should pay attention to the capabilities of the Iranians. In the future, nations will live together and run the world together.
A.B: One last question: will you vote on Friday?
M.A: I have announced that I will not vote if there is no change in the decision of the Guardian Council. And I will not support anyone.