A self-serving elite are `condemning Iran to economic failure, inflation and international isolation’, Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox MP told students and members of the public when he visited the University of St Andrews to give a lecture on relations with Iran today (Monday 25 February 2008).
A crucial test of the ability of the system to evolve from within would come in the Parliamentary elections next month, said Dr Fox.
“The people of Iran deserve so much better but it is they who must be the final arbiters of their own destiny. The whole World will, over the coming weeks, hope that they have the strength and fortitude to overcome the hurdles they face in asserting themselves and the courage to make the right decisions for theirs and Iran’s future”, Dr Fox told the audience at the event in Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews, which was chaired by Dr Ali Ansari Director of the University’s Institute for Iranian Studies.
Dr Fox said he did not agree with those who believed there was little point in trying to engage Iran further under its current government.
“While this frustration is understandable I believe it to be misplaced. Engagement is always likely to produce better results than the alternative – especially as failing to talk is generally regarded in the Middle East as arrogance rather than strength. But we equally need to be clear about the nature of what we are dealing with and respond with clarity, strength and consistency.
“It cannot be emphasised enough that we do not have a quarrel with the people of Iran. On the contrary, their interests and ours overlap to a considerable degree. We want to see a more prosperous and free Iran take its rightful place as an important regional and global player.”
Dr Fox added that Iran needed access to international markets and the lifting of sanctions if the country was to realise more of its economic potential.
An increase in international trade would be to everyone’s’ benefit. On the issue of civil nuclear power, Iran had a right to this technology under the non-proliferation treaty but only if it complied fully with its obligations under international law, said Dr Fox.
Issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office
Ref: Fox visit 250208
For further information please contact:
University of St Andrews Press Office 01334 462529
Hayden Allan, Conservative Party Press Office on 0207 984 8087