Prague, 11 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- This is the transcript of an interview RFE/RL's Tajik Service conducted today with Abdlhasan Banisadr, who became the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 but fled to Paris a year later. He became one of the leaders of the opposition to the current Iranian government.
"We are against a total break in relations with Iran because the Iranian people are hostage to the country's regime. What we want is for the West to protect us from this regime and to take into account the verdict of the (Berlin) tribunal. We want the West to take a neutral political course, but an active one. 'Neutral' means not to aid this regime -- 'active' means not to harm the Iranian people. It means a policy of minimal relations, to allow this people to live and strive for its freedom.
The Berlin court's main message was that this (Iranian) regime is a terrorist state and at the head of this state there is a president and a leader who come together in a council and organize terror there. And when a court decides that a regime is terrorist, then that regime loses every legality."
Banisadr On Russia's Role
"Russia cannot fill the void of the West's relations with Iran because Russia has a sick economy. How can a sick economy replace the West's strong economy? Thus, Russia cannot step in to fill the void left by the West. What Russia is doing, in my opinion, is leading Iranian public opinion to understand that this regime has lost all support it had in the West. This will permit the Iranian people to act to re-establish democracy."