Iran Reveals Plans to Broaden Cultural Cooperation With Russia

Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Mehdi Esmaeili revealed on the Rossiya-24 TV channel on July 6, 2023 that Iran has plans of broadening cultural exchanges with Russian under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 

“We are conducting negotiations with our Russian neighbors to establish cultural relations within the SCO. We had about 40 memorandums of understanding, two memorandums were documents concerning cultural issues. Let’s expand this trajectory of cultural development in cooperation of the member countries along with the military, political and economic power of the SCO,” he stated.

Additionally, the minister of culture also called attention to how, for Iran, tourism is a fantastic opportunity for engaging in cultural exchange. He reasoned that since Iran possesses cultural monuments, in addition to historical, natural and geographical sightseeing attractions, Iran is an attractive destination for cultural exchange with foreigners. 

The SCO Council of Heads of State held an online summit on July 4, in which SCO officials announced Iran becoming the 9th SCO member. Since the end of the Cold War, Iranian and Russian relations have tightened to unprecedented levels. This is historically surprising, due to how Russia and Iran had antagonistic relations during the epochs of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, respectively.  

However, the post-Cold War era has seen the US pursue a fanatic foreign policy where it has backed Sunni Islamists to poke both Iran and Russia in the eye.  Moreover, the fact that these countries remain authoritarian, makes the US even more emboldened to pursue regime change against them. As a result, Russia and Iran will naturally pact together to check US influence. They will use the SCO as one vehicle to resist further Western encroachment.

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