A Study of the Consistency of Urban Diplomacy with Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Case Study: Sister Cities of Tehran

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 MA of Political Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Extended Abstract
Foreign policy is evidence of a series of pre-planned actions by government decision makers focusing on certain goals within the framework of national goals in the international context. Urban diplomacy is one of the tools for strengthening foreign policy in the international arena. It can be used as a complement to foreign policy. There are ways to strengthen this type of diplomacy, one of which is the link between cities, referred to as the "urban sister". In the meantime, the Tehran metropolitan city has been able to create twenty-twenty transplants. Existing surveys show that the increase in the number of sister cities in Tehran depends on foreign policy of Iran.
This paper is based on descriptive-analytical method and the method of data collection and information is generally based on the library method. In the more convenient way to study the documents, reference to relevant internal and external books, publications and press, articles, and magazines and Internet sites have been emphasized. After collecting and categorizing information, their analysis is mainly based on description and thinking based on logic and reasoning.
The findings of this study are as below:
1. Realistic non-tensional nationalist relations: / Preservationist realism period (1979-1982)
At that time, due to the first issues of the revolution, the attack on the US Embassy, ​​the beginning of the imposed war, political instability, the conflict of views on foreign policy (neither the East nor the West policy, fear of losing its position or prosecution Neighborhood to the West or the East), none of the officials was thinking about urban issues. Meanwhile, the problems of the city today were not very popular today in the world, and especially in our country.
2. The period of recession and distrust during the revolutionary period: The Enlightenment Enlargement period (1982-1990)
In addition to the abovementioned factors, the lack of management stability at the head of the municipality of Tehran, the lack of familiarity of urban managers with urban issues, urban diplomacy and the issue of urban sister was not discussed. The abovementioned factors have made the worthy face of Tehran and Iran not reflected in the world, and the country and the big cities and the capital of these countries are reluctant to communicate with Iran and our cities.
3. Construction Period: The Economics of Developmental Period (1990-1998)
City links were held in Tehran during the second round of the presidential election of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and in bishkek in the capital of Kyrgyzstan in 1994. During the three years, four links were created in the field of urban sister in Tehran. It can be said that in addition to the direct impact of foreign policy on establishing such links, management stability is another factor in creating these links. It can be said that the presence of the mayor of Tehran in the government led to familiarity with the international issues and the relationship with other officials of the countries and cities, and due to the specific circumstances mentioned above, in the case of Tehran, the taboo of breaking these relations was broken.
4. The era of reform: the period of constructive and inclusive dialogue (1998-12006)
In the policy-driven developmental period of civil society development, it provided the structural and functional reform of foreign policy, and structurally increased the role of individuals rather than individuals in the decision-making process. Political and cultural development, increasing communication with other countries, and especially the European Union, as well as the past experiences of urban diplomacy and the establishment of the sister city, showing a better face than Iran and Tehran, has caused other cities in the world to establish Relations with Tehran. For six years, the authorities of Tehran's municipality were able to establish links with other cities around the world.
5. Principle Orientalism: Controversy and Conflict during the Principalists (2006-2014)
Given the events that took place in foreign policy that affected most of the micro and macro programs of the country, the issue of urban diplomacy was no exception. Considering the experiences of the previous two years in the field of urban diplomacy and the establishment of the city's sister ties, due to aggressive foreign policy during this period, the municipality of Tehran was able to create five links of urban sister with several other cities.
6- The Period of Thought and Hope (2014-2018):
In this period, due to the atmosphere created in the nuclear talks and its impact on the political and economic spheres, urban authorities were able to create eight urban ties with other cities in the world. The links created in this period over the previous periods are more consistent with foreign policy.
7. Tehran City Metropolitan Diplomacy: From the 1979 to 1995 revolution, more than sixteen years of urban diplomacy and the issue of Tehran metropolitan metropolitan areas were marginalized. The first Tehran metropolitan metropolitan linkage was started in 1994, under the chairmanship of Mr. Karbaschi (Mayor of Tehran). Today, the number of Tehran-Tehran metropolitan links with other cities from different countries has reached twenty-five.
Foreign policy is evidence of a strategy or a series of pre-planned actions by government decision makers that are aimed at specific goals within the framework of national interests in the international context. Urban diplomacy as a branch of public diplomacy is one of the means of strengthening foreign policy in the international arena, which governments can use as complementary rather than rival in foreign policy. In this form of diplomacy, the use of the ability of cities in the world to develop international relations and cooperation alongside international politics, in the form of urban politics and with regard to the potential of citizenship, is considered. One of the ways to strengthen urban diplomacy is to create links between cities that are referred to as "Memoirs of Urban Sisters". These links are based on a friendly and targeted relationship for the exchange of information, experiences, and the development of cultural, social, political, economic, urban and technical relationships between a urban community inside and the urban community, as well as abroad. Meanwhile, Tehran's metropolitan city has been able to connect with many cities around the world in pursuance of its urban diplomacy. The increase in the number of these links depends on the foreign policy of the various governments. 
Iran's foreign policy, Iran, after the revolution, was largely based on Islamic values ​​and changed its nature, and governments were also planning their foreign policy on the basis of it. The examination of Iran's foreign policy in various presidential periods suggests that some principles in presidential discourses have largely been ideological in nature and have been an integral part of foreign policy. Other words of foreign policy discourse have mainly been related to the executive branch's approach. These discourses affect all dimensions of governance (micro and macro). One of these dimensions is urban diplomacy, which can serve as a supplement to foreign policy in the form of a memorandum of understanding of the urban sister. Meanwhile, existing surveys show that although the number of links of the metropolitan sister of Tehran's metropolitan area with twenty twins was closer to Asia with eleven linkages, the tendency of governments to move toward foreign policy toward Europe With nine links, with less ties to the American continents with three links and Africa, and three links, and no link has been created between the metropolis of Tehran and the continental cities of Oceania. Accordingly, Tehran metropolitan city authorities in the four presidential periods (Hashemi Rafsanjani, Khatami, Ahmadinejad and Rouhani) had less convergence with foreign policy, but in the course of Rouhani, according to previous experiences in urban diplomacy and post-war conditions They have been able to create urban links with eight cities. Therefore, when these approaches have been realistic, global interactions and co-operation have increased, such as Hassan Rouhani's presidential term that was able to create eight urban sister cities in five years with other cities around the world, and when an ideological approach The foreign policy device has become more colorful and has increased the number of threats and decreased cooperation with the world, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, which reduced the number of sister-city links to five in quantitative and qualitative terms.


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  • Receive Date: 07 November 2017
  • Revise Date: 21 January 2018
  • Accept Date: 14 September 2018
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2019