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H-ASIA November 16, 2008 Recent activity of the the Poland-Asia 21st Century Foundation, "Engaging Iran" ************************************************************************ Ed. note: While this particular reported event is focussed upon Iran, which, conventionally lies beyond the remit of H-ASIA, this post is included as it marks the first report of the ongoing activities of the Poland-Asia 21st Century Foundation. In future, we will be including only those items relating to Central, South, Southeast or East Asia. FFC ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: marek moron <email@example.com> Minutes of the panel Discussion "Engaging Iran" Krakow -Poland 11.10.2008: I would like to inform that the "Poland - Asia ; XXIst Century Foundation" organised a panel meeting and discussion "Engaging Iran " at the Jagiellonian University -Krakow on 11th October 2008. Enclosed is a short report / minutes of this event. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The Foundation " Poland - Asia XXI st Century " and the Department of Comparative Studies of Civilizations of the Jagiellonian University have organized a panel meeting entitled "Engaging Iran" which took place in Krakow on October 11th 2008 The meeting took place in one of the rooms of the Department of Comparative Studies of Civilizations . The materials concerning the subject of the meeting have been put on the web sites , both , of the Foundation and the Department. The panelists of the meeting were Prof dr. Anna Krasnowolska and dr. Marek Smurzy?ski both iranisst of the Jagiellonian University. The meeting has been moderated by Mr. Marek Moron , a permanent collaborator lecturer of the Department of Comparative Studies and the founder of the "Poland -Asia XXI-st Century Foundation". The introduction has been performed by Prof dr. Andrzej Flis . The meeting has been attended by 41 participants . In majority they were students and research academicians of the Jagiellonian University. To begin with , the moderator , has read once again " 10 statements " from the handouts for the meeting , indicating that together with the panelists' opinions they will constitute the basis for the discussion and means do reach possible conclusions . The most important points indicated both, during the statements and the discussion , are as follows : 1. the Iran - Poland relations are assymetrical , meaning that the Poles know Iran in general more than the Iranians know Poland . But still , it seems that bilateral lack of knowledge of real image and situation of each other , is very significant in both countries.. 2. the periods of certain closeness of both Poles and Iranians ,as well as of people the two countries (1942 -1945 period with large number of the Polish WW II refugees from the Soviet Union and the period of comparatively significant economic relations in the 70-ties and till the middle of 80-ties of the 20th century ) did not turn into durable relationship . No lasting organizational instruments of interpersonal or economic relations have been created . It seems that such instruments - chambers of commerce , friendship associations etc. would have a chance to function to large extent independently from the changes on the political scene. 3 . obtaining the knowledge about regions of Asia , including Iran , we may consider as our duty . Duty in the sense that increasing the level of this knowledge may not only widen the Poles' evaluations of the perspectives concerning both inter-regional and world relations, widened by the knowledge not only from the eurocentric point of view, or from the perspective of the euro-atlantic discourse but also add Iranian perspective evaluation . Having such widened scope, performing of the Polish evaluations and reaching our conclusions for forms of possible engaging oneself , will take place on the base of larger knowledge . Such general knowledge, as a consequence, may have influence on political qualities. In this way we see the implementation of this duty, as our contribution to further creation of Poland as sole creator of its own concept of Asian policy. 4. all the participants agreed that the argument for building in Poland elements of the [United States-sponsored] anti-rocket system as protecting us from the Iranian attack, is not convincing. 5. during the meeting , the unanimous opinions have been expressed, that presenting Iran in Poland, as a both, fanatic and primitive country inhabited by religious fanatics as it takes place, is the expression of incorrect state of affairs . In this context, in the discussion as well as in the evaluations the subject of Polish growing relations with the Saudi Arabia was brought up. Saudi Arabia being a state which in fact fits the characteristics mentioned above. 6. Regardless of limits to Polish own creating interregional relations , including relations with Iran, it seems reasonable to prepare the basis and back up for strong development of relations with Iran (human and economic relations in particular) should circumstances permit. 7. Considering the increasing number of quoted during the meeting opinions, among other from the USA ( Bill Richardson, Henry Kissinger, M. K. Badrakumar, Natan Gonzales , George Perkovich) it may be expected that the USA will start the initiative to begin direct talks with Iran. The question is whether, and if to what agenda, Iran will accept such initiative. 8. inter-civilisational dialogue cannot be reduced to discussing religious subjects of Christianity and Islam . It has been pointed out that dialogue of intellectuals of both Iran and Poland on vision of the world in the 21st century in the eyes of religious as well as secular intellectuals, would be useful. 9. Poland has no reason to fear Iran. The participants of the meeting expressed opinion that presently, Israel may have such fears . Still , Israel should not make out of its justified fears, over-regional hysteria , possibly making the impression of putting Europe into the hostage -like position. In both , Iran - Israel relation context as well as the Iranian President's repeated statements , questioning holocaust as historical fact, it has been agreed that such statements are absolutely unacceptable. Approaching this problem from our own position of good will we assume that such statements are the result of lack of knowledge and not of a bad will on the side of the President of Iran. The "Poland -Asia XXI st century" Foundation will send do the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, two documental books in English presenting, apart from the written documentation, extensive , both photographic and documentary dossier on the tragedy of the Jewish nation during WW II , with request to forward the enclosed materials to the centers presenting in Iran opinions concerning the above subject . Conclusions and indications for further own activities . 1. Engaging Iran - talking with Iran is the idea of great current importance and indicates towards the purpose of advance preparatory activities towards developing of s Polish - Iranian relations . 2. We consider useful and possible , to organize in 2009 in Kraków a debate of both Iranian and Polish intellectuals; religious as well as secular to discuss the subject of vision of the 21st century. We are undertaking activities to organize this event. 3. Considering the fact , which has been stressed during the meeting, of lack of South and Central Asia literature translations, Iran including , we consider it useful to make efforts towards establishing a printing house which through editing translations of the selected items of literature, among other, Iranian, will contribute to increase the level of knowledge of the region in Poland , in this way supporting the above indications for the purposefulness of creating of Poland's own Asian policy. Including policy towards Iran Marek Moron Jagiellonian University. ****************************************************************** To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to: <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send post to: <firstname.lastname@example.org> with message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/