Iran's Khatami outlines new program, says reforms won't come easy
Reformist Iranian President Muhammad Khatami on Sunday, August 26, outlined the government's main programs during his second term in office, but stressed that reforms, notably in the nation's economic structure, would not come easy.
"Reforms, notably in the economic field, are a twisted task which can only take place step by step and gradually. One cannot expect to witness fundamental changes in this structure in the short term," Khatami said Sunday cited by the state IRNA news agency.
According to the head of state, who was re-elected to a second and last four-year term in office in June, his government had tried to "reform the economic structure with least possible dependence on foreign sources."
Khatami listed the "the nation's internal difficulties, pressures from global powers, as well as the imposing of various sanctions on Iran, including US-imposed sanctions on foreign firms looking to invest in Iran's oil and gas industry," as some of the main stumbling blocks in reviving the nation's sluggish economy.
The 57-year-old moderate cleric said "strengthening the private sector" as well as "decreasing the budget's dependence on oil" would be two of the "most important" strategies, which his new cabinet would follow in the coming four years.
On Wednesday, Iran's reform-majority parliament approved all 20 cabinet ministers proposed by Khatami after four days of intense debates notably on sensitive issues such as the nation's high unemployment, the weak economy and inflation.
During the debates, newly appointed Economy Minister Tahmasb Mazahri called for a clear break from the previous administration and slammed his predecessor's action as "weak" and "ill-adapted" in handling the nation's economy.
Khatami also referred to "social reforms," saying that they too "are not possible in the short term." "Repelling and hasty acts as well as great shocks to society cannot lead to suitable results," Khatami said in what appeared to be an allusion to rising police-led operations against social vices.
Last week, Khatami criticized what he said were "harsh and repressive measures" against young people. "In a society where there is poverty, discrimination and illegal profits, you can't expect young people to be perfect", Khatami said.
Some 200 youth have been publicly flogged in recent weeks in Tehran sparking fury among Iranians and triggering a new dispute between conservatives, who dominate the judiciary, and reformists, who see the move as an attempt to undermine Khatami. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)