The interview was conducted when Hosseini Alast was still acting as Iran’s cultural attaché in Albania.
The following is the transcript of the interview:
Balkans Post: Could you tell us a little about your activities in Albania?
Hosseini Alast: A cultural attaché, as the name indicates, is someone who is active in various fields of culture, art, publications, media and communication. Through environmental monitoring, programming and other activities over the previous years, the mission has been striving to conduct activities within the framework of the common values of both Iranian and Albanian peoples. These activities are ultimately aimed at promoting the Iranian-Islamic culture and civilization, as well as explaining the situation of present-day Iran, in particular in the context of the fight against Islamophobia and Iranophobia.
The presence of the band “Soluk” in Albania, the establishment of the Persian language department at the University of Prishtina, the organization of numerous recitals and theatrical performances, including recitals of famous Albanian artists, and poems by Omar Khayyam, Naim Frasheri and Rumi are among the activities of the mission.
Organizing a conference dedicated to Naim Frasheri in Tehran, sending scientific, artistic and cultural delegations to Tehran, continuing the publication of Perla magazine and publishing about 15 books are also among the activities of the cultural mission.
BP: Both Iran and Albania are majority Muslim countries. How could this be used to extend the two nations’ cultural ties?
Hosseini Alast: Albania, like Iran, is considered a majority Muslim country and this commonality of faith can greatly help the promotion of bilateral relations. It also facilitates cooperation, but we must bear in mind the fact that formalized and prevalent Isalomophobia and Iranophobia are an obstacle to the implementation of these potentialities, especially this has been under the control of rivals and the mainstream media. Therefore, despite the existence of these common features, unfortunately due to the negative activity of the rivals and the activity of the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the possibility of any kind of programming has been eliminated.
BP: What other cultural commonalities do you see between the Iranian and Albanian people?
Hosseini Alast: We have a lot in common with the Albanian people, such as lifestyle, similarities in language, literature, proverbs and the use of common words, especially by the great Iranian poets, writers and mystics in Albania, such as Saadi, Hafez, Rumi and Omar Khayyam. Also, the blessed existence of Naim Frasheri, the great poet and national hero of Albania who has written a book of poems in Persian language, or even the Albanian national epopee entitled "Karbala", are in this continuum. And finally, the Albanian folk music is completely similar to the genres of music played in the provinces of Iran. Hence, the commonalities between the two Iranian and Albanian cultures are vast and multifaceted.
BP: A few years ago, members of the MEK terrorist group were relocated to Albania, making the country a hub for anti-Iran activities. What’s your take on this issue?
Hosseini Alast: Our people detest them and call them criminals who waged war on their own people and their own homeland. I don't have anything specific to say about this case because in essence my work is cultural and I rarely approach such issues, but I find it impossible for this small group to revive itself.
BP: Why did Albania decide to become a country that hosts such a terrorist organization?
Hosseini Alast: I don't think this is an Albanian decision, rather, this bitter decision was imposed on Albanians. Perhaps in the meantime there were individuals who benefited.
BP: In December 2018, Albania expelled two Iranian diplomats due to alleged involvement in a terror plot against the MEK. What’s your assessment of this move?
Hosseini Alast: I think that even this action was not undertaken by the Albanian side but it was an action designed and planned outside of Albania. The Albanian Foreign Ministry's statement also confirms this fact. The two Iranian diplomats were very well-respected and never left the official and legal framework, and the accusations made against them were completely unfounded. But this is the character of Iran's enemies who are always benefiting cowardly from accusations and media propaganda. The two Iranian diplomats had great influence and were very active in the field of bilateral relations. Of course, the enemies of the two peoples of Iran and Albania could not bear these two invaluable diplomats.
BP: Der Spiegel revealed last year that members of the MEK practice “cutting throats with knives, breaking hands, tearing eyes, tearing the corners of mouths” three times a week. What’s your view about these activities and what purpose could they serve?
Hosseini Alast: I've also heard these things in the news. I think more should be thought about the truth of this news story. It is likely to be news manipulated in order to drop the accusations against the MEK. Of course, at the same time it was alarming.