Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 27
By Saeed Isayev - Trend:
While Iran doesn't mark the New Year on Dec. 31-Jan. 1, the country still has its reasons to celebrate. In Iran's case, these reasons are definitely worth celebrating. In our case, these reasons are worth mentioning.
Firstly, there was high anticipation all over Iran due to presidential elections, which were held in the country on June 14. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to step down anyway, as according to country's constitution one can't participate in presidential elections for three straight terms.
Of course the elections were being observed by the majority of the international community. It has to be noted that many foreign journalists and observers arrived in Iran to witness the elections firsthand.
Remembering the ugly events of the 2009 post-presidential elections, Iran had to tighten security, adjust the voting system and make sure the elections would be transparent, with high voter turnout. Basically, that's what happened, as Hassan Rouhani won the elections, gathering over 50 percent of the total votes.
Known as a moderate politician, Rouhani was to dive directly into the world of international sanctions, high inflation, unstable foreign currency rates and of course the nuclear program issue. While the newly elected president received a lot of congratulations both inside and outside the country, very few expected he would be able to solve the country's ongoing problems quickly.
At the official inauguration ceremony Rouhani was extremely positive and confident that Iran would continue its path towards progress and positive changes. He specifically said that the Islamic Republic "doesn't have any thoughts of going at war with the world", which was one of the few messages oriented directly towards Western states.
During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ruling, there was no agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group, regarding the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Eventually, you can't negotiate forever. Thus, the change in Rouhani came just in time.
Rouhani, who used to head Iran's former nuclear negotiating team, and was one of country's top negotiators on the nuclear program, had to make some changes. He did exactly that, substituting the negotiating team members, and giving new instructions.
For someone who once was involved in such sensitive discussions himself, Rouhani's remarks must have been extremely helpful to the new team.
As a result - on November 24, 2013, about 5 months after Rouhani's election as president of Iran, the sides were able to reach an agreement. Iran has agreed to curb some of its nuclear activities for six months in return for sanctions relief.
Another positive wave for Iran came during the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York, where Iranian foreign minister met the U.S. Secretary of State after 34 years of no direct communication. This was followed by the first ever direct phone talk between US President Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani.
Of course both Rouhani and Obama have to deal with hardliners in their countries, and so far both have been doing a fairly good job. Obama for example, has recently said he would veto any new sanctions on Iran, showcasing that the U.S. administration is willing to give the talks with Iran a chance.
The nuclear negotiations with Iran are slated to continue in 2014, and considering the above mentioned positive events, a chance is definitely something that both sides need.