By Paolo Mastrolilli
Source: La Stampa (Italy)
Paolo Mastrolilli: Your biography describes you as “a leader and advocate of the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights for his countrymen”. Could you please describe your personal values?
Reza Pahlavi: «For 40 years I have been clear in my convictions, my values, and the values I envision for the future of Iran. This vision is centered around my belief in the equality of all people. Men, women, young, old, religious, atheistic, or any other label— we are all citizens. We all have fundamental rights based on our humanity and these are not to be violated. From this stems my belief in democracy and the viability of a secular democracy in my country, where all citizens will have a say in creating our future, together».
Paolo Mastrolilli: You said in several occasions that Iran must become a secular, parliamentary democracy, for all freedom-loving individuals and political ideologies. You called for a separation of religion and state, for free and fair elections, and you said that the final form of the state has to be decided by the people. Could you describe your vision for the future of Iran and how to achieve it?
Reza Pahlavi: «The future of Iran will be based on freedom, security, and human dignity. It starts with freedom. In the free Iran, each citizen will play a part in building our democracy from the very first days. We will, together, choose a system of government in a popular referendum. We will elect representatives to a constituent assembly, and the parliament, etc. Security is also critical. We will deliver security from arbitrary state violence, from economic destitution, and from foreign entanglements and terrorism. Finally, human dignity. Each Iranian will be treated with the dignity befitting him or her as a citizen and as a human, without regard to his or her race, creed, or station in society».
Paolo Mastrolilli: What do you think of the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, and of the decision by the Trump administration to abandon it?
Reza Pahlavi: «The deal was inherently flawed because it ignored the critical component, the Iranian people. The Western powers in America and Europe have mistakenly believed they can change the regime’s behavior. They cannot. This regime is irreformable. It is poisoned from the core. The only way to end the regime’s rogue behavior is to support the people in their efforts to establish a free, secular democracy. Negotiating with this regime is futile and is an affront to the Iranian people».
Paolo Mastrolilli: Is the “maximum pressure strategy” implemented by Washington working to weaken the regime, or would you like to see a more assertive role played by the United States to change the regime?
Reza Pahlavi: «Targeted sanctions on the regime are necessary, should continue, and should be enhanced. The West should consistently sanction the regime’s terror arms which kill my compatriots at home wreak havoc abroad. In terms of overt regime change, this must be directed by the people in a massive campaign of civil disobedience. The sanctions can help weaken the regime’s ability to respond to such a popular movement, but the people must play the leading role».
Paolo Mastrolilli: Iran has been recently accused of several military operations, including the attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Do you think the United States should consider a military reaction?
Reza Pahlavi: «What Saudi Arabia and its allies choose to do is their predicament as well as their prerogative. My personal opinion has always been that war is ultimately a lose-lose proposition. I have recently addressed my compatriots in an interview with a Persian network in which I told them that under no circumstances should they allow the regime to believe that it can count on their support if it tries to impose a war. Anything short of that could only embolden the regime to escalate the confrontation which would have disastrous consequences».
Paolo Mastrolilli: President Trump said recently that he would be open to the possibility of meeting President Rohani. What do you think about it?
Reza Pahlavi: Negotiating with this regime is futile. President Trump and all Western leaders should instead engage the Iranian opposition and support the people.
Paolo Mastrolilli: The European countries have been trying to save the nuclear agreement, what message would you like to send them?
Reza Pahlavi: «The European leadership should know that this regime will eventually be gone. When it is and as a people we have established for ourselves a true representative democracy, we will not forget those who helped the regime and were silent in our fight for freedom. They should engage the people of Iran and stop coddling the regime. By financially engaging the Islamic Republic, you are indirectly supporting the murder of my people and also global terror».
Paolo Mastrolilli: Italy has a long-standing bilateral relation with Iran. For example, Italy is still allowing Mahan Air to operate flights in Rome and Milan. What message would you like to send to the new Italian government?
Reza Pahlavi: «Prior to Italy’s history of coddling the regime, we had good relations. We had profitable and extended relations and engagements both economically and culturally. Unfortunately, the Italian government like many of its European counterparts has coddled this regime economically and in other ways. The new Italian government should stop indirectly funding the regime’s campaign of domestic and global terror and think of the future, instead.
Paolo Mastrolilli: In a recent message sent to the Iranian people, you said that «civil disobedience is the first step toward the reconstruction of Iran. » Are you encouraging protests?
Reza Pahlavi: «Yes. The only way to peacefully transition to democracy is for the people to engage in widespread and united civil disobedience. One component of that is protest, others are workers strikes, student movements, among others».
Paolo Mastrolilli: What is the mood among the Iranian people, as far as you can tell, is it true that there have been recently protests aimed at changing the regime?
Reza Pahlavi: «The Iranian people want to overthrow this regime. For 40 years they have suffered, every day from oppression, corruption, and indignity. They have had enough».
Paolo Mastrolilli: You said that you are ready to serve your country. In which form do you envision your service for the future of Iran?
Reza Pahlavi:«I will serve my country in any way I can. As of now, that means uniting the opposition and expressing the desires of my countrymen abroad. My only goal is to set my country free».