[IWAR] CNN Khatami transcript

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Jan 08 1998 - 10:54:41 PST

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    Transcript of interview with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami 
    January 7, 1998 Web posted at: 7:06 p.m. EST (0006 GMT) 
    AMANPOUR: Mr. President, a month ago you announced that you had a
    historic message to deliver to the people of America. I understand that
    message will take the form of a short address and then we'll discuss the
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    At the outset, I would like to congratulate all free and noble women and
    men especially the followers of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), on the
    occasion of the New Year. I take as a good omen the concurrence of the
    Christian New Year with the Islamic month of Ramadan, the month of
    edification and self-restraint that has been the goal of all divine
    We are at the close of the 20th century, leaving behind a century full
    of inequality, violence, and conflict. We pray to the Almighty to enable
    us to begin a new century of humanity, understanding, and durable peace,
    so that all humanity would enjoy the blessings of life. Once again I
    would like to present my felicitations to all the followers of Jesus
    Christ, to all human beings, and particularly to the American people. 
    I have said earlier that I respect the great American people. In this
    short span of time, I wish to briefly present my analysis of the
    American civilization so that my remarks would not be taken as political
    nicety or a mere play on words. 
    The American civilization is worthy of respect. When we appreciate the
    roots of this civilization, its significance becomes even more apparent.
    As you know, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is a rock which is
    respected and revered by all Americans. The secret of American
    civilization lies in this rock. In early 17th century, those 125 men,
    women, and children who left England in search of a virgin land to
    establish a superior civilization finally landed on this rock. The
    reason why the American people respect this rock is that it was the
    place where the Puritan pilgrims first landed. From then on, the
    Americans celebrate the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day,
    thanking God for this success bestowed upon them. 
    The American civilization is founded upon the vision, thinking, and
    manners of the Puritans. Certainly, others such as adventurers, those
    searching for gold, and even sea pirates, also arrived in the U.S. But
    the American nation has never celebrated their arrival and never
    considered it to be the beginning of their civilization. The Puritans
    constituted a religious sect whose vision and characteristics, in
    addition to worshipping God, was in harmony with republicanism,
    democracy, and freedom. They found the European climate too restrictive
    for the implementation of their ideas and thoughts. 
    Unfortunately, in the 16th, 17th, and even 18th centuries, there was a
    serious clash between religion and liberty. In my opinion, one of the
    biggest tragedies in human history is this confrontation between
    religion and liberty which is to the detriment of religion, liberty, and
    the human beings who deserve to have both. The Puritans desired a system
    which combined the worship of God and human dignity and freedom. 
    This civilization was founded in New England and gradually spread to the
    entire America and it even clashed with certain evil trends which has
    caused slavery in certain states and ultimately succeeded in abolishing
    slavery. There were numerous martyrs who gave their lives for this
    cause, the most famous of which was Abraham Lincoln, the strong and
    fair-minded American president. 
    This civilization is best described by the renowned French sociologist
    Alexi de Toqueville who spent some two years in the U.S. in the 19th
    century and wrote the valuable book entitled Democracy in America, which
    I am sure most Americans have read. This book reflects the virtuous and
    human side of this civilization. In his view, the significance of this
    civilization is in the fact that liberty found religion as a cradle for
    its growth, and religion found protection of liberty as its divine
    calling. Therefore, liberty and faith never clashed. And as we see, even
    today Americans are a religious people. Therefore, the Anglo-American
    approach to religion relies on the principle that religion and liberty
    are consistent and compatible. I believe that if humanity is looking for
    happiness, it should combine religious spirituality with the virtues of
    And it is for this reason that I say I respect the American nation
    because of their great civilization. This respect is due to two reasons:
    the essence and pillars of the Anglo-American civilization and the
    dialogue among the civilizations. 
    You are cognizant of the great heritage of the Iranian nation with its
    glorious civilization and culture. Irans glorious civilization was
    concurrent with the Greek city states and the Roman Empire. After the
    advent of Islam, the Iranians ardently embraced it. The blend of Iranian
    talents and the sublime Islamic teachings was a miracle. Without
    intending to deny the share of other nations in the formation of the
    Islamic civilization, I believe the great Iranian civilization had a
    major role in developing and promoting the Islamic system. 
    Over the past two centuries, the Iranian nation has striven to establish
    liberty, independence and a noble way of life. The Constitutional
    Movement colonialism. Ultimately, the Islamic Revolution had-and should
    have-two directions: First, an interpretation of religion which couples
    religiosity with liberty. Of course, now that four centuries have passed
    since the beginning of the American civilization, human experience has
    taught us that prosperous life should hinge on three pillars:
    religiosity, liberty, and justice. These are the assets and aspirations
    of the Islamic Revolution as it enters the 21st century. 
    In terms of the dialogue of civilizations, we intend to benefit from the
    achievements and experiences of all civilizations, Western and
    non-Western, and to hold dialogue with them. The closer the pillars and
    essences of these two civilizations are, the easier the dialogue would
    become. With our revolution, we are experiencing a new phase of
    reconstruction of civilization. We feel that what we seek is what the
    founders of the American civilization were also pursuing four centuries
    ago. This is why we sense an intellectual affinity with the essence of
    the American civilization. 
    Second, there is the issue of the independence. The American nation was
    the harbinger of independence struggles, the initiator of efforts to
    establish independence, for whose cause it has offered many sacrifices,
    leading ultimately to the Declaration of Independence which is an
    important document on human dignity and rights. 
    Finally, I should refer to the struggles of the Iranian people over the
    last two centuries which culminated in the quest for independence during
    the Islamic Revolution launched by Imam Khomeini. When Imam Khomeini
    launched the revolution, Iran was in a terrible condition. In other
    words, the Iranian nation had been humiliated and its fate was decided
    by others. You know that a remarkable feature of Imam Khomeinis struggle
    was his fight against capitulation which the Shah was forced to ratify
    making the American advisors immune from prosecution in Iran. This was
    the worst humiliation for our people. They rose up, fought for
    independence, and emerged victorious. Of course, the war of the
    revolution was one of words not weapons. We, therefore, endeavored to
    obtain a novel experience of religion and to gain independence. Both
    these features are salient in the American civilization and we feel
    close to them. 
    But here I have to express pity over a tragedy which has occurred.
    Unfortunately, policies pursued by American politicians outside the
    United States over the past half a century since World War II are
    incompatible with the American civilization which is founded on
    democracy, freedom and human dignity. We ardently wished that those who
    enforced this foreign policy were representatives of the prominent
    American civilization; a civilization which was achieved at a heavy
    cost, and not the representatives of those adventurers who were defeated
    by the American people themselves. 
    This flawed policy of domination had three setbacks: One was severe
    damages that it incurred upon the deprived and oppressed nations,
    including our own. The other setback was that it dashed the hopes of the
    people of the colonized world, who had placed their trust in the U.S.
    tradition of struggle for independence. When the policies for domination
    were implemented in the name of the American people, the nations lost
    their trust in the Americans. This represents a grave damage done by the
    U.S. policies on the American nation. The Third and most important of
    these setbacks is that what was implemented was done in name of a great
    people that had risen for freedom. I feel that the American politicians
    should realize this fact and adjust themselves with the standards of
    Anglo-American and American civilization and at least apologize to their
    own people because of the approach they have adopted. 
    AMANPOUR: You said that you wanted to use this interview to deliver a
    message to the American people. I've lived in America, and I know the
    concerns of the average American when it comes to Iran. And its the
    message that has come out of Iran for the last twenty years, the
    message; hostage taking, the message of death to America, the message of
    burning the American flag, the message that almost looks like Islam has
    declared a war against America and the west. Let me ask you first about
    the hostage crisis which is emblazoned in every American's mind. As you
    know, in all revolutions, the communist revolution in Russia, the French
    revolution, perhaps even the American revolution, the early years
    contain many excesses. Would you say that taking the American hostages,
    at the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution falls into the
    category of early revolutionary excesses? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Thank you for your question. I believe that first we
    have to analyze events within their proper context and with
    circumspection. The image of Islam which has been presented, and I dont
    want to accuse anyone here, has been an erroneous one. Islam is a
    religion which calls all humanity, irrespective of religion or belief,
    to rationality and logic. Islam invites followers of all divine
    religions to unite around God worship and all Muslims to fraternity. The
    Islam which we know and practice and founded our revolution on
    recognized the right of all human beings to determine their own destiny.
    It declares that relations among nations must be based on logic and
    mutual respect. Such Islam is enemy to no nation, enemy to no religion.
    It seeks dialogue, understanding and peace with all nations. One of the
    major flaws in the U.S. foreign policy, which I recently construed as
    being behind times, is that they continue to live with cold war
    mentality and try to create a perceived enemy. Here I dont wish to
    insult anyone. I know that there are quite a few wise and fair-minded
    statesmen in the United States, but the outcome of the interplay with
    the U.S. policy has shaped the U.S. policy in a manner that continues to
    be a prisoner of cold war mentality. After the collapse of communism,
    there has been an attempt by certain circles to portray Islam as the new
    enemy, and regrettably they are targeting progressive Islam rather than
    certain regressive interpretations of Islam. They attack an Islam which
    seeks democracy, progress and development; an Islam which calls for
    utilization of achievements of human civilization including that of the
    With regard to the hostage issue which you raised, I do know that the
    feelings of the great American people have been hurt, and of course I
    regret it. Yet, these same feelings were also hurt when bodies of young
    Americans were brought back from Vietnam, but the American people never
    blamed the Vietnamese people, but rather blamed their own politicians
    for dragging their country and its youth into the Vietnam quagmire. The
    pressure by the American people terminated that senseless and inhuman
    war. In fact the American people themselves brought that war to an end. 
    The feelings of our people were seriously hurt by U.S. policies. And as
    you said, in the heat of the revolutionary fervor, things happen which
    cannot be fully contained or judged according to usual norms. This was
    the crying out of the people against humiliations and inequities imposed
    upon them by the policies of the U.S. and others, particularly in the
    early days of the revolution. With the grace of God, today our new
    society has been institutionalized and we have a popularly elected
    powerful government, and there is no need for unconventional methods of
    expression of concerns and anxieties. And I believe when there is logic,
    especially when there are receptive ears, there is no need other than
    discourse, debate and dialogue. 
    AMANPOUR: So, are you saying that despite the grievances that you talk
    about, with hindsight, if you had to do this all again, would Iran have
    done it differently at that time? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: As I said, everything must be analyzed within its own
    context. The events of those days must be viewed within the context of
    revolutionary fervor and the pressures to which the Iranian nation was
    subjected, causing it to seek a way to express its anxieties and
    concerns. Today we are in the period of stability, and fully adhere to
    all norms of conduct regulating relations between nations and
    With the grace of God, today all the affairs of country are being
    conducted within the framework of law. And as I have stated, both in
    domestic and foreign affairs, we shall endeavor to strengthen the rule
    of law in every respect. 
    AMANPOUR: Mr. President, Americans, the average American, is familiar
    with one image of Iran, death to America, the burning of the American
    flag, and as we talked about, the hostages. You talk about a new chapter
    in relations between the peoples of the world. What can you say to the
    Americans listening tonight, to show that person that your Iran is a new
    Iran or a different Iran? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I say that these issues should be examined with due
    consideration to their root causes and various dimensions. There are
    slogans being changed in Iran. But, you as a journalist can ask all
    those chanting the slogans whether they are targeting the American
    people. And they would all say no. Not only we do not harbor any ill
    wishes for the American people, but in fact we consider them to be great
    nation. Our aim is not even to destroy or undermine the American
    government. These slogans symbolize a desire to terminate a mode of
    relations which existed between Iran and the United States. This is a
    response to that grave affront by a former U.S. defense secretary who
    said the Iranian nation must be rooted out. It is also a response to the
    downing of the Iranian airliner that killed about 300 innocent people,
    mostly women and children. Even if we accept that the shooting was
    accidental, the decoration of the commander of the American naval vessel
    responsible for the tragedy was indeed adding insult to injury. There is
    also the recent allocation $20 million by the U.S. Congress to topple
    the Iranian government. Our people consider U.S. foreign policy to be
    aimed at undermining and confrontation with itself. And, in fact, they
    want the death of this relationship. No one has the intention of
    insulting the American nation and we even consider the U.S. government
    as the legitimate and lawful representative American flag, which
    represents its nationhood, and which hurts the collective feelings of
    the nation. As far as I know, the Leader of the Revolution and other
    authorities are also not happy with this practice. There might be
    actions taking place that might not meet with your approval. Yet I am
    sure that those doing such actions do not intend to insult the American
    people. And we hope that actions which might be interpreted as
    anti-American people and nation would not take place. 
    AMANPOUR: You say that you want to talk to the American people. Are you
    prepared to sit down eventually and talk to the American government
    about the issues that you have just mentioned tonight that separate and
    divide you? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Firstly, nothing should prevent dialogue and
    understanding between two nations, especially between their scholars and
    thinkers. Right now, I recommend the exchange of professors, writers,
    scholars, artists, journalists, and tourists. A large number of educated
    and noble Iranians now reside in the U.S. as representatives of the
    Iranian nation. This shows that there is no hostility between the two
    nations. But the dialogue between civilizations and nations is different
    from political relations. In regard to political relations, we have to
    consider the factors which lead to the severance of relations. If some
    day another situation is to emerge, we must definitely consider the
    roots and relevant factors and try to eliminate them. 
    Firstly, I have to state that U.S. foreign policy behavior toward Iran
    has inflicted damages upon us. But is also had a positive effect. It
    caused us to mainly focus on our domestic capabilities and resources to
    advance our objectives. Now, too, we feel no need for ties with the
    U.S., especially as the modern world is so diverse and plural that we
    can reach our objectives without U.S. assistance. I especially feel that
    many progressive countries-including the Europeans- are far more
    advanced in their foreign policies than the U.S.. We are carrying out
    our own activities and have no need for political ties with the United
    But the point is that the political behavior of governments should not
    deprive nations from enjoying the opportunities provided by each side.
    There is a bulky wall of mistrust between us and the U.S.
    Administration, a mistrust rooted in improper behaviors of the American
    governments. As an example of this type of U.S. behavior, I should refer
    to admitted involvement of the U.S. Government in the 1953 coup detat
    which toppled Mosaddeqs national government, immediately followed by a
    $45 million loan to strengthen unpopular foreign installed Government. I
    should also refer to the Capitulation Law imposed by the U.S. on Iran. 
    The attitude of the U.S. after the victory of the revolution has not
    been a civilized one. They have adopted a hostile policy against Iran.
    They have tried to inflict economic damage upon us, a clear example of
    which is the DAmato act which represents a continuation of cold war
    mentality and the lack of appreciation of realities to the point that
    they even want to impose their will upon other countries such as
    European countries and Japan or the allocation of the already mentioned
    $20 million to topple the Iranian government. 
    The success of our revolution has come at a great cost to our nation.
    And the U.S. has a major share in the cost imposed upon the Iranian
    nation. There is a grave mistrust between us. If negotiations are not
    based on mutual respect, they will never lead to positive results. The
    condition is that American foreign policy should abandon its
    instrumental rationality and stop considering adopt an approach based on
    communicative rationality which is inherent in the American
    There must first be a crack in this wall of mistrust to prepare for a
    change and create an opportunity to study a new situation.
    Unfortunately, the behavior of American Government in the past up to
    this date has always exacerbated the climate of mistrust and we do not
    detect any sign of change of behavior. 
    We are looking for a world in which misunderstandings can be overcome,
    nations can understand one another and mutual respect and logic govern
    relations among states. It is the right of every nation to stand on its
    principles and values and have the expectation of respect and dignity
    from others. 
    AMANPOUR: Then where does this dialogue, this message to the people of
    the United States lead? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When I speak of dialogue, I intend dialogue between
    civilizations and cultures. Such discourse should be centered around
    thinkers and intellectuals. I believe that all doors should now be
    opened for such dialogue and understanding and possibilities for contact
    even between American understanding between our two nations, a better
    future for both countries and nations may be forged. 
    AMANPOUR: Let me ask you some specific issues that concern the people of
    the United States. As you know, many U.S experts say that the evidence
    is overwhelming, that elements of the Iranian authorities, Iranian
    officials, provide not only political and moral, but financial support
    to organizations that commit acts of terrorism, and result in the deaths
    of innocent women and children. If you were presented with proof and
    with evidence that any kind of Iranian was involved in that kind of
    financial support or act, what would you do about it? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: You see, this is another example of the sort of
    problem that exists between us and the United States. They first level
    unfair and unsubstantiated accusations against you. And when they
    propose to hold talks, they say that they want to have a dialogue with
    you about these very unfounded accusations. They are in fact trying to
    put the other side on trial. 
    Well, let me tell you this. We believe in the holy Quran that says:
    slaying of one innocent person is tantamount to the slaying of all
    humanity. How could such a religion, and those who claim to be its
    followers get involved in the assassination of innocent individuals and
    the slaughter of innocent human beings. We categorically reject all
    these allegations. 
    Secondly, the logic of history has proven that violence is not the way
    to achieve desired end. I personally believe that only those who lack
    logic resort to violence. Terrorism should be condemned in all its forms
    and manifestations; assassins must be condemned. Terrorism is useless
    anyway and we condemn it categorically. Those who level these charges
    against us are best advised to provide accurate and objective evidence,
    which indeed does not exist. 
    AMANPOUR: If you were provided with the proof that an Iranian official
    had used any kind of Iranian funds to reward or finance any group or
    individual that was involved in an act of terrorism, would you punish
    that person or that organization? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Certainly if I learn of any instance of such
    assistance to terrorism, I shall deal with it, so will our Leader, and
    so will our entire system. At the same time, supporting peoples who
    fight for the liberation of their land is not, in my opinion, supporting
    terrorism. It is, in fact, supporting those who are engaged in combating
    state terrorism. AMANPOUR: Regardless of the motive, do you believe that
    killing innocent women and children is terrorism, as for instance what
    happens on the streets of Israel? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: It is definitely so. Any form of killing of innocent
    men and women who are not involved in confrontations is terrorism; it
    must be condemned, and we, in our term, condemn every form of it in the
    AMANPOUR: Americans say that they have reports that Iranian officials
    abroad regularly engage in acts of surveillance against Americans, the
    sort of surveillance that could be interpreted as preceeding an attack.
    Do you think that is appropriate? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I deny this categorically. On our part there has been
    no new move, no special measures with regard to the United States in
    external fields; this is another false rumor spread by those who bear a
    grudge against us. 
    AMANPOUR: Iran has said that it doesn't agree with the Middle East peace
    process. Yasser Arafat was elected as a representative of the
    Palestinian legitimate aims. And he has entered into a peace process. Do
    you think that it is appropriate for any foreign power to engage in
    supporting the groups that are fighting against Yasser Arafat -- the
    groups such as Hamas and others? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: First of all, we have declared our opposition to the
    Middle East peace process because we believe it will not succeed. At the
    same time, we have clearly said that we dont intend to impose our views
    on others or to stand in their way. In our view all Palestinians have
    the right to express their views about their land, including the
    millions of Palestinians in Diaspora. They too have a right to self
    determination. Only then can there be a lasting peace. We seek a peace
    through which Jews, Muslims and Christians, and indeed each and every
    Palestinian, could freely determine their own destiny. And we are
    prepared to contribute towards the realization of that peace. 
    But let me elaborate a little for the American people on my views about
    U.S. Middle East policy. Anti-semitism is indeed a western phenomenon.
    It has no precedence in Islam or in the east. Jews and Muslims have
    lived harmoniously together for centuries. In the east, we have had
    despotism and dictatorship, but never had fascism or nazism. These, too,
    are also western phenomena, and the west has paid dearly to combat them.
    What concerns me is that, first, this western anti-semitism has turned
    into a tool for the imposition of a whole range of improper policies and
    practices on the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general.
    Secondly, I am concerned that this western dilemma may be projected
    elsewhere, that is fascism and nazism are suppressed in the west, they
    may resurface in another form in western policies elsewhere. 
    Obviously, Washington is the U.S. capital where policy decision on U.S.
    national interests must be made. However, the impression of the people
    of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy
    decisions of the U.S. are in fact made in Tel Aviv and not in
    Washington. And I regret to say that the improper American policy of
    unbridled support for the aggressions of a racist terrorist regime does
    not serve U.S. interests, nor does it even serve that of the Jewish
    people. Zionists constitute a small portion of the Jewish people and
    have openly declared and proven in practice that they are expansionist.
    The Israeli intransigence in the course of the current peace process,
    and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even U.S.
    allies in the region. In my view, peace can come to the Middle East when
    all Palestinians, Jews and Muslims alike, can determine the future of
    the land. That should include those living in Palestine as well as those
    refugees living elsewhere. Only then can a stable and lasting peace be
    established. Many in the world might share our view, and many may differ
    with us. We simply present our opinion, and have the greatest respect
    for all Palestinians who are concerned about the future of Palestine.
    Meanwhile, we believe the United States should not risk the substantial
    prestige and credibility of the American people on supporting a racist
    regime which does not even have the backing of the Jewish people. 
    The subject of Middle East peace is one that needs a sober and pragmatic
    analysis. We believe that it will not succeed, because it is not just
    and it does not address the rights of all parties in an equitable
    manner. We are prepared to contribute to an international effort to
    bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. 
    AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you know another concern of the west is Iran's
    nuclear program. Would you consider entering a special agreement, a
    special sort of situation with the atomic energy agency, for special
    monitoring, if that would lessen the fears of the people you say you
    want to have a better dialogue with? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: We are a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
    Treaty. The official representatives of the International Atomic Energy
    Agency have inspected our facilities in Iran several times, and have
    publicly declined that we are not planning on building nuclear weapons
    and only aim to employ nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It is
    ironic that those who are so concerned about saving humanity from
    nuclear weapons, fully support Israel which is a nuclear power and is
    unwilling to join the NPT or accept IAEA safeguards, while leveling
    allegations against Iran which has not even been able to complete its
    first nuclear power plant which began before the revolution. These are
    all pretexts for imposing certain policies on Iran and the region and to
    create panic and mistrust. We are not a nuclear power and do not intend
    to become one. We have accepted IAEA safeguards and our facilities are
    routinely inspected by that agency. 
    AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you are the president of Iran. You have made
    certain promises to the people of Iran, and now you have said certain
    things about dialogue with other countries. Can you implement your
    promises to the people of Iran? Do you have the authority and the room
    to maneuver? And in foreign policy, are you able to implement foreign
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Surely, after being elected, one should abide by ones
    promises and not to retract on them. I am determined to fulfill my
    promises and I believe the atmosphere is conducive and would improve day
    by day. Each person will carry out his tasks in his legal capacity. The
    President shoulders the important task of enforcing the Constitution. I
    have set up a Constitution Monitoring Group for the first time ever and
    this group is actively working to locate instances of violations or
    incorrect enforcement of the Constitution. We will be seriously address
    any shortcoming in the implementation or violation of the Constitution.
    And we shall succeed. Iran has one government which makes decisions on
    domestic and foreign policies within the framework of its duties. Of
    course, there are many issues that should be approved by the Parliament.
    The overall policies are determined by the eminent Leadership. But it is
    the government that has to enforce them. I feel there is no barrier
    along the way of the government authority and the government accepts it
    own responsibility. We will surely implement any policy that we
    formulate. It is possible that preliminary steps in certain areas might
    need time. But when we arrive at a policy, we will definitely carry it
    out. The government is responsible to carry out duties associated with
    its sovereign responsibilities in the society. 
    AMANPOUR: There is quite a lot of opposition from the conservative
    faction. How are you able to operate within this climate? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When we speak of democratic government, or government
    of the people, it means that we accept opposition. We cannot possibly
    have a society with no opposition at all. Such differences of opinion
    are natural and they are to be found in all societies. We should learn
    not to allow such differences to turn into confrontation, but to direct
    them into their legal channels. Certainly there are elements who are
    opposing our government, but so long as their opposition is practiced
    within the provisions of the Constitution, we certainly respect them.
    But those wishing to impose their will against the law will naturally be
    dealt with through the proper legal channels. We accept both internal
    differences as well as any opposition that accepts the Constitutional
    framework, even if they openly oppose the government. 
    AMANPOUR: On the one hand, a lot of people want more openess, more
    freedom for all the things that you have even talked about. You are also
    appointing reform-minded ministers. On the other hand, there are still,
    if I could call them thugs, who are on the streets, interfering with
    women who they don't like their appearance, preventing certain
    professors from going to school. There is a confrontation. Where can you
    lead this confrontation? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I do not consider this a serious conflict. Of course,
    there are various tendencies, which were present during the elections as
    well. The people have made their decision. What I have said and continue
    to insist on is that rule of law should be paramount, and no one should
    consider himself above the law and try to impose his views on others.
    Some of these frictions are quite natural in a democratic society. Our
    objective is to bring everything within the framework of the law. There
    may be occasional irregularities and actions outside the legal
    framework. But we will spare no effort to institutionalize the rule of
    law. Of course, to begin with, we have to create understanding amongst
    ourselves and learn to tolerate each other. You cannot bring about
    understanding and tolerance in the society by force. We are determined
    that there should only be one government in the society by force. We are
    determined that there should only be one government in the society and
    every one must submit to the law. I think that it is universally
    accepted that law is the basis of social order. Fortunately, our leader
    fully subscribes to this view. I hope that we can take more and more
    practical steps for the realization of the rule of law in our society. 
    AMANPOUR: Nonetheless there are two factions that seem to have been
    identified in Iran right now. The more conservative and the one that you
    lead, the reform minded, the more moderate. Where do you think that Iran
    will be one year from now? Will there be the freedoms and openess that
    you have talked about? 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Let these divisions find their meanings within their
    own context. Terms such as conservative, moderate and the like are more
    often meaningful in the West. Of course we have differences of opinion
    in Iran too, and one political tendency firmly believes in the
    prevalence of logic and the rule of law while there might be another
    tendency that believes it is entitled to go beyond the law. Anyway, such
    issues need tolerance and we must try to bring about such an
    understanding as to enable us to stay together while having differences
    of view but not let things become chaotic. Should we carefully prepare
    the ground for the implementation of the law in our society, there shall
    be no problem vis-a-vis such oppositions. I consider them natural and we
    need not worry about it. Of course reaching an ideal society with all
    its affairs in proper order needs time. We have the necessary patience,
    so do our people and we shall all try to move towards an orderly society
    where logic and law reign supreme. 
    AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you very much for joining us. 
    PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I thank you very much and I thank all dear viewers
    for their patience. 
    Courtesy of aliat_private, Ali Bakhshandeh 

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:59:42 PDT