On Tuesday August 14, 2018, Dr. Mohammad Mahdi Mazaheri, the ECI President, attended a press conference with the representatives of foreign media stationed in Iran. Having congratulated the Day of Journalists as the pioneers of free circulation of information across the world, Dr. Mazaheri emphasized: "Establishment of foreign journalists' section in the deputy ministry of culture for press could serve as a good opportunity for the exchange of news on international scale".
Expounding the activities of ECO Cultural Institute over the past two years, he continued: "This international institution is making efforts to expand the scope of cooperation with the member states in the areas of arts, culture and literature on a more extensive scale."
According to ECI Public Relations, at this press conference held at the foreign journalists' section in I.R.I Deputy Ministry of Culture for Press, Dr. Mazaheri elaborated upon ECO's stance within regional and global arrangements and said: "The unique capacities of ECO Region should be presented to the world."
Continuing his remarks, Dr. Mazaheri pointed to the international position of public diplomacy and stated: "Public diplomacy encompasses instruments such as media, universities, sports, arts and culture."
In response to the question raised regarding the activities of the Institute during the past wo years, the ECI President briefed: "A diverse range of programs have been carried out, a comprehensive report of which is being prepared. Some of these include holding conferences on different topics such as women, peace, family, poetry and literature; painting, illustration and visual arts exhibitions alongside research activities in English and Persian language featuring the presence of university professors from the art universities of the member states."
Highlighting the rich cultural and historical background of the region which has made it a cultural pole, Dr. Mazaheri noted: "The diverse range of geographical topography of the regional countries has mingled with their cultural commonalities displaying unity in multiplicity."
He further pointed to 'research' as one of the key mandates being followed up by the Institute during his tenure.
The member of the steering committee of Development Management, I.R.I Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he went on to talk about public diplomacy as a more extensive and more influential components of diplomacy as compared to other ones and mentioned: "Such opportunities must be harnessed particularly in the ECO Region to contribute to the world peace and that is what we have always emphasized upon".
"We believe that peace should be materialized and manifested through the mediums of arts, culture and literature so as to contribute to the realization of the pre-set goals in world peace", he reiterated.
He also called dividing of nations as the leading factor to the birth of wars and added: "Peace could be materialized through the mediums of arts and culture and that is the why, we have emphasized on the capabilities of public diplomacy in this regard more than ever before".
The ECI President also briefed the conference on the joint cultural productions of the member countries of this international organization saying: "ECI, in collaboration with the Farabi Cinema Foundation and the Directorate General of Culture of the Khorasan Razavi Province, established the 1st ECO cinema organization to produce joint movies with the cooperation of the neighboring countries such as Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Moreover, joint music productions such as 'Nations' Music Concert', one of which has already been organized, are among our future plans for joint cultural productions".
Responding to the Associated Press reporter's question on the extent of cooperation between ECI and other international, cultural institutions and organizations, he pointed to more than his 90 visits with ambassadors of five continents stationed in Iran and continued: "We are having fruitful interactions with globally important world unions such as ASEAN and welcome cooperation with all other international, cultural institutions."
Commenting over ECI's publications in other languages of the member states, Dr. Mazaheri referred to obtaining ISSN number for ECI's publications and said: "The Institute has publications in English and Persian languages. However, with the cooperation of any of the embassies of the Member States, ECI is ready to release publications in that language of the region".
"ECI is administered through the collective wisdom of ten countries. The information on any program being organized will be circulated among all member states inviting for cooperation. Each of us has but one vote and we work towards realizing a single vision and mission", he said.
While pointing to the formation of ECO Fraction in the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Dr. Mazaheri further expressed hope that with the cooperation of other member states, proper ground would be provided to establish ECO Inter parliamentary Union.
On the possibility of membership of other regional countries in ECI, Dr. Mazaheri elaborated: "The pre-requisite of such membership is consensus and defining pecific solutions. But for the global registration of Nowruz, Iraq, India, and Mongolia are also accompanying the ECO countries, because this is one of their commonalities".
Concluding his remarks, Dr. Mazaheri invited the agents of foreign media to pay visit to ECI headquarters and announced that the ECO Journalists' Union will soon be set up with the collaboration of the Press Deputy of the I.R.I. Ministry of Culture.