Leader’s Speech to Government Officials

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on June 19, 2006 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with government officials.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Mustafa Muhammad, upon his immaculate and pure household, and upon his chosen companions. And greetings be upon all divine prophets. All-Wise Allah said, "And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe." [The Holy Quran, 14: 7]

First of all, I would like to welcome everybody and express my gratitude to you for taking part in this meeting. In particular, I would like to thank the friends who have traveled a long distance and those who have attended this meeting in spite of the heavy responsibilities they are shouldering.

Giving advice is the purpose of the numerous meetings that I have arranged with you over the past years. I take a look at myself and see that I need advice. By analogy, I think that we government officials who serve the country at different levels need to listen to the recommendations that are offered and the criticisms that are made so that Allah the Exalted may provide us with an opportunity for improvement. We need to pay attention to ourselves, to our hearts and souls. Our souls require more care and attention than our bodies. If we are determined to enlighten our souls, if we are determined to prepare our souls for divine mercy and guidance, we need to pay attention to the spiritual aspect. It is dangerous to leave the heart unattended because it is easily and quickly drawn to material attractions. We easily fall into the trap of self-importance, arrogance and lack of vigilance. We need to be aware of these things.

The following has been mentioned in two different places in the Holy Quran: "Then, when We give him a favor from Us, he says: I have been given it only by means of knowledge." It has been mentioned both in Sura Al-Zumar and in Sura al-Luqman, I think. When God bestows a blessing on human beings, they tend to forget the One who bestowed the blessing on them and they start to think that it was they themselves who managed to earn the blessing or the opportunity. The same thing has been said about Qarun. When he was criticized that he should consider his wealth as a blessing from God and that he should use his wealth both for his own comfort and for a divine cause, he replied: "I have been given this only on account of the knowledge I have." [The Holy Quran, 28: 78] He said that he had earned the wealth himself. This is a big mistake that all of us might make: having delusions about our capabilities. The same is true of having delusions about God. "Let not the life of this world deceive you, and let not the arch-deceiver delude you about Allah." [The Holy Quran, 35: 5] This holy ayah is about being deluded about God. We must avoid being deluded about God as well.

In Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says: "And the most wretched wretchedness to him who is deluded about You! How much he will move about in Your chastisement! How long he will frequent Your punishment! How far his utmost relief! How he will despair of an easy exit!" Being deluded about God means having too many unreasonable expectations from God. It means asking God for reward without having done any righteous deeds. It means being confident of God's assistance simply because one considers oneself as a righteous servant of God. It means taking advantage of God's patience and continuing to commit sins. It means considering oneself immune from God's punishment. All of these things are instances of being deluded about God. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) prays for permanent wretchedness on those who are deluded about God. This is the same thing that happened to the Children of Israel. Allah the Exalted had made them the chosen people, but because they were deluded about God and failed to fulfill their duties, Allah the Exalted said of them, "And abasement and humiliation were brought down upon them." [The Holy Quran, 2: 61] They were the same people who are referred to in different places in the Holy Quran as the chosen people. "And that I made you excel the nations." [The Holy Quran, 2: 47] But the same people did so many bad things that Allah the Exalted said of them, "And abasement and humiliation were brought down upon them, and they became deserving of Allah's wrath." [The Holy Quran, 2: 61] They provoked divine wrath. These are the consequences of being deluded about God. We need to pay attention to ourselves, our hearts, our souls and our spiritual purification. We must not let our heavy responsibilities divert our attention from these things. Of course, we are free to follow this path. Daily prayers, divine remembrance and midnight prayers are the ways in which we can engage in self-purification. All these have been made available to us. If we avoid laziness, we can purify ourselves. Then we would achieve transcendence, spirituality and success.

My dear ones, you and I need these pieces of advice more than other people do. I came to the conclusion that among the spiritual responsibilities that we have to shoulder, being thankful to Allah the Exalted is one of our most important responsibilities today, so I decided to say a few things about being thankful to God. The ayah that I recited from Sura al-Ibrahim - "If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more" - is a very important ayah. It is both a kind of encouragement and a kind of warning. It says that if you are thankful, God will bestow more blessings on you and if you show ingratitude, there will be divine punishment for you. And there have been no exceptions in history. If you wonder why God did not inflict severe punishment in a particular case, it is because you are misinterpreting that particular case, otherwise if you interpret it in the right way, it will become clear that there have been no exceptions.

What is the meaning of being thankful to God? Thankfulness is based on a few essential pillars. The first pillar is identifying the blessing and paying attention to it. One problem that we suffer from is that we fail to identify and appreciate divine blessings. We do not appreciate the value of health until when we become ill or disabled. We fail to appreciate the value of youth until when we have grown old. We are not perceptive enough. This is the problem. We do not appreciate the value of security until we suffer from insecurity. The people of Kufa started to appreciate the value of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) only when Hajjaj came to power. The people of Medina started to appreciate the value of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and Imam Hussein (a.s.) only when Muslim ibn Aqaba came to power and started to massacre them: he raped their wives and daughters and forced them to announce that they were slaves of Yazid. The people of Medina went to him and announced that they were slaves of Yazid and whoever refused to do so was beheaded. Only then did the people of Medina realize the value of the rule of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and the security and respect they enjoyed during the time of the previous governments. The second pillar is to believe that the blessing is from God. The third pillar is having a sense of gratitude. We must admit that the blessing is from God, but we must not say that it was His duty to bestow the blessing on us. No, it is necessary to feel that one is indebted to Allah the Exalted. The fourth pillar is to use the blessing as a rung in the ladder of improvement and transcendence.

Every blessing that has been bestowed on you is a rung in the ladder that helps you move upward. You should use every blessing to move one step forward, and every step you take is another blessing which should be used to take the next step and move forward. A person who can move up the ladder, but fails to do so, is ungrateful. Notice what a big blessing this expression of gratitude is. Imam Hussein (a.s.) says in Dua Arafa, "Whenever I thank You for any of Your blessings, that expression of gratitude is another blessing. Therefore, if I stay alive until the end of time, I will testify with all my heart and soul that I have not been able to thank You for even one of Your blessings because thanking You for a blessing is another blessing, which makes it necessary for me to thank you again."

Expression of gratitude for a blessing is itself a blessing. First of all, when you thank God for a blessing, you engage in divine remembrance and you pay attention to God. Thanking God makes you remember God. Second, expression of thankfulness gives us patience. Thanking God for a blessing brings about patience and fortitude. There is a dua which says, "Dear God, I ask You for the patience of those who thank You." When you thank God in appreciation of a blessing, you remember the blessing that Allah the Exalted has bestowed on you and you become hopeful. This hope increases your fortitude. Therefore, patience is a requirement for gratitude. One of the outcomes of thanking God is fortitude and steadfastness in difficult arenas. Thanking God makes one avoid arrogance. Moreover, Allah the exalted has promised to bestow more blessings on those who thank Him. Divine promises are inviolable and they are fulfilled in a particular way. As I said before, expression of gratitude for a blessing brings about more blessings. Thanking God for the first rung in the ladder helps one take the next step and the next, until one reaches the top. Expression of gratitude is our responsibility.

What is the opposite of thankfulness? Ingratitude. Ingratitude is the opposite of what I explained. Failing to pay attention to the essence of the blessings that we enjoy is a problem that many of us are suffering from. The same is true of denying divine blessings, not considering them from God or becoming too proud of God-given blessings. Too much pride leads to collapse. Arrogance results in a downfall. These are instances of ingratitude. "And Allah sets forth a parable: (consider) a town safe and secure to which its means of subsistence come in abundance from every quarter, but it became ungrateful to Allah's favors. Therefore, Allah made it taste the utmost degree of hunger and fear because of what they wrought." [The Holy Quran, 16: 112] If a society that enjoys wellbeing and material and spiritual blessings fails to be grateful, God makes it suffer from insecurity and poverty. This is the result of ingratitude.

What is the most important thing that we should be thankful for? After all, it is not possible to list all the blessings. "And if you would count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them." [The Holy Quran, 16: 18] When my hand was paralyzed, I noticed certain things. For example, I noticed that I could easily move the fingers on my other hand, which appears to be very simple. From what the doctors told me, I realized that the seemingly simple act of moving my fingers is the result of several important capabilities, but I was completely unaware of these capabilities until my hand was paralyzed. The fact that you government officials can make independent decisions on the basis of your religious faith, the fact that you are not affect by the policies of foreigners, the fact that the people consider you one of their own, the fact that you are lucky enough to be in a significant position, the fact that you do not touch what belongs to the people, the fact that committing sins is not easy for you - we could list thousands of such blessings if we wanted to, blessings that Allah the Exalted has bestowed on us. But we fail to appreciate the blessings that have been bestowed on us.

I believe the first blessing for which we have to be thankful to Allah the Exalted is national dignity and independence. There was a day when the most senior officials of this country had to wait for the approval of English and American ambassadors even in the case of the most basic policies. There was a day when three leaders of the Allied forces in the Second World War specified a leader for our country in Tehran. They removed a particular person and replaced him with another person. No government official would be installed in Tehran without the permission of the White House. They were the ones who decided that Amini should come and Eqbal should go. They were the ones who decided who should stay and who should leave. They were the ones who decided who became minister where. This was the situation of our nation. They ordered us to sell our oil to particular countries and sign particular global or regional pacts. No pride and dignity would remain for a nation with such government officials and leaders. Therefore, the most important divine blessing for our country, nation and government officials is that there is national dignity and independence. Today no power in the world can claim that it is dominant over our political system and that its statements, announcements or threats can affect the decisions we make.

Another blessing that our country enjoys today is the blossoming of talents. A few days ago the youth who are active in the area of nuclear technology had staged a small exhibition in this Hussayniyyah, a microcosm of the great movement that has been launched in our country. It is enjoyable to see all these advances. But seeing those youth was more enjoyable to me. There were young, pious, determined and proud individuals among them who are in charge of great organizations. There were certain youth among them who had started great projects. These things are enjoyable. Where were these youth? We have not imported them from abroad. They have been raised and trained in our own country. It was the Revolution and Islam that made them improve and flourish. There are similar things in a hundred other areas as well. Nuclear technology is just an example that has been highlighted and people know about it. But there are similar things in other areas as well and I have seen some of them up close. If our youth are given the opportunity to work and flourish in such environments, they will no longer feel the need to go aboard. They will want to work inside the country. Everybody complains about the brain drain although I have never considered this a serious problem because our students go abroad and most of them return to the country when they graduate. We should prepare the ground inside our country so that our youth feel that they can realize their potential inside the country.

When you provide a capable youth with a soccer field, he trains and realizes his potential, but when he is deprived of this, he either despairs or searches for a field in order to play soccer. It is necessary to prepare the ground and certain things have already been done in this regard. Of course, we have certain responsibilities, which I will discuss later on. The flourishing of talents is one of the great blessings that one can witness everywhere - among our scholars, among our administrative officials, among members of our Armed Forces.

One of the greatest divine blessings is the hope and self-confidence that our people enjoy. Hope is a truly great blessing. Those who are hopeless and do not see any future prospects for themselves become impatient. Not only do they fail to make efforts, but they also prevent others from making efforts. But hopeful people take the lead and encourage government officials to follow them. This has already happened in our country. Hope is prevalent in our society. Our people are hopeful about the future. This is a truly great blessing. It is necessary to appreciate this blessing and be thankful for it.

One of the great divine blessings is our human nature. Another great blessing is the natural resources that our country enjoys. The opportunity that has been provided for you to serve the people is another blessing. The religious and spiritual orientation that is prevalent in the country today is another blessing. We should not forget that there used to be certain people in the country who were opposed to all kinds of religious movements. They used to fight these movements in different ways. They used to make efforts to create a fake anti-religion atmosphere in the country. They would try to make our people surrender to western culture. Today our people have managed to make their thoughts, their religious faith and their spirituality prevail in the cultural atmosphere of the country. This is a great blessing.

Another truly great blessing is the current administration which came to power with slogans of principlism. This is one of the blessings for which we have to be thankful to God. Our parliamentary candidates should also try to win by shouting slogans of principlism. These are truly great blessings and we must be thankful for them. This is our duty. Now I would like to present a general picture of the conditions of the country and in so doing I want to avoid both the trap of excessive and misleading optimism and the trap of excessive and misleading pessimism. We have a lot of strengths as well as a lot of weaknesses. We need to be aware of both our strengths and our weaknesses in order to be able to make the right decisions.

Primarily, our strength is the numerous great achievements that our country has accomplished one after the other. Some of these achievements are the result of the efforts by the previous administrations and some others are the result of the efforts by the current administration. In general these efforts brought about great achievements for us, which is a strong point for the country. These achievements have been made in science and foreign policy, and they are all among the great achievements that have been made by the Islamic Republic.

One of the strong points is the hope that exists among the people. Our people feel dynamic. Another strong point is the fresh, determined and hard-working administration that has come to power. Another strong point is our international prestige and glory, the signs of which are becoming visible one by one. We enjoy a solid, glorious and outstanding international position. This is clear to anybody who is familiar with international issues and follows the latest developments in the world. And one of the signs is the successful trips that the honorable President makes to different places.

Another strong point is the scientific advances that we have made. These advances have been made in different areas and I hope Allah the Exalted helps the competent youth and managers who are active in these areas so that they can achieve the results they want, present their accomplishments to the people and increase the sense of pride and dignity among the people.

Another strong point is the advances relating to developmental infrastructure of the country, which is mostly the result of the efforts by the previous administrations. Today good investments have been made in communications - such as telecommunication and transportation - and in different other areas. It is clear that good infrastructural work has been done in the country.

Another strong point is the political calm we enjoy. All the efforts by unknown hands have been countered. You saw that they tried to create sectarian conflicts, but they failed. They tried to create ethnic conflicts, but they failed. They tried to create conflicts among our guilds, but they failed. This shows that this deep sea is calm, that these preplanned activities by the known and unknown hands cannot create turbulence in this sea.

The harmony between the three branches of government is one of our biggest strong points. Today the Majlis, the administration and the judiciary trust one another. This is very different from a situation in which the Majlis distrusts the administration, a situation in which the administration distrusts the Majlis, a situation in which the judiciary distrusts both the administration and the Majlis. That would be a very bad situation. Thankfully this is not the case today. There is harmony. There is cooperation. Different organizations and different currents cooperate with each other. There is solidarity, unity and harmony.

On the other hand, we have urgent needs which have not been fulfilled and this is among our weak points and shortcomings. There are certain shortcomings in the country. The issue of unemployment is an important issue for us. During the time of the previous administration, I stressed the issue of employment very much, just as much as I have stressed the issue from the beginning of this administration. I cooperated with the previous administrations and I helped them a lot to create employment opportunities. The issue of employment is still an essential issue for us. The issue of inflation, the issue of disadvantaged regions, the issue of fighting corruption - these are important issues and we cannot afford to ignore them. Corruption is like a big hole in the bottom of a pool: you use big pipes and try to fill the pool with water, but you fail. Why? Because there is a big hole in the bottom of the pool and water escapes through the hole. Corruption works in the same way.

We need to have investment security so that we can encourage investments in the country. Investment security should be fully ensured in the country so that we can use our financial resources to make progress, create employment opportunities and launch an economic movement in the country.

Consolidating our international position is another issue. It is not the case that our international position will remain intact no matter how we behave and act. This position is not guaranteed to stay the same and we need to consolidate it. This requires acumen, careful analysis and concerted efforts.

Improving our cultural image is one of our fundamental issues. The cultural image of our country should be brilliant and Islamic and it should also be completely in line with Islamic virtues. This is one of our shortcomings. Of course, by insisting on the principles and making constant efforts and by being thankful for the blessings that I spoke about, our principlist administration and Majlis can increase these achievements and eliminate the shortcomings one after the other.

I have pointed out, and everybody agrees, that today the decision-making pillars of the country - namely the Majlis, the executive branch and the judiciary - are being managed on the basis of Islamic thought or what is commonly referred to as "principlism". And this is one of the great divine blessings that we enjoy. What are the principles that we are speaking about? This is very important. I do not want to specify the principles in this meeting, but I would like to mention a number of the most important principles. Principlism is neither a slogan nor a reaction to the political schools of thought that are common in the country. It is wrong to divide our political activists into principlists and reformers, or principlists and non-principlists. Principlism belongs to all those who are committed to the principles of the Revolution, all those who love the principles of the Revolution, no matter what they are called.

What are these principles? Islamic faith and identity, revolutionary faith and identity and commitment to this faith and identity: these are the primary principles. These principles put certain responsibilities on the shoulders of the government. We cannot say the government has nothing to do with religious beliefs of the people. No, this is not the case. They promoted this idea for a while, but it is wrong. The government has a responsibility to shoulder in this regard. How come the government confronts the people who sell fake medicine on Naser Khosro Street, but the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance should not confront those who sell cultural drugs? How come the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance should not confront those who spread cultural poison? This is the responsibility of the government. And the IRIB, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and different other organizations should help. The important duty is to strengthen the pillars of insightful and firm religious faith in the minds of our young and growing generation, the kind of faith that is devoid of superstition and weak intellectual principles, the kind of faith that is based on clear insight, the kind of faith that does not fan the flames of sectarian conflicts in any area - faith in Islam, faith in the Islamic Republic, faith in the people, faith in the future, faith in ourselves, faith in our national independence, faith in our national unity. I emphatically announce that it is wrong to say or do something that fans the flames of sectarian prejudice and pitches everybody against one another, all in the name of religious faith. This is not at all how we should behave. You may remain committed to your religious beliefs. You may debate and reason with anybody who does not share your religious beliefs and you may try to win him over, but you must not fan the flames of sectarian prejudice. "And have disputations with them in the best manner." [The Holy Quran, 16: 125] This is a Quranic verse. I do not know why some people fail to understand this?

In this regard, another important responsibility that lies on the shoulders of the Islamic Republic is to highlight and clarify Islamic identity in the world of Islam so that it becomes a model for Muslim nations: piety that is free from superstition, exploration of religious texts and innovation. Some people think that it is not possible to have innovation in religion. Our Islamic sources and religious texts are inexhaustible. What we extract from them depends on our capacities. We should try to put forth novel ideas in different areas. The Holy Quran is an endless ocean. Saying that the Holy Quran contains "many" truths is an understatement because we have not extracted most of the truths that we could have extracted from the Holy Quran. One of our responsibilities is to think, extract truths, introduce innovations and put forth novel ideas to Muslim intellectuals and scholars. Of course, it goes without saying that there are certain principles that should be observed in this regard, which is the case with everything else as well. There is a particular method that should be adopted and this method is indispensible. A person who does not know anything about a particular subject cannot be asked to introduce innovations. Innovations can be introduced by experts, by those who are knowledgeable, by those who are familiar with the Holy Quran and Sunnah. A person who knows nothing about music cannot be asked to compose a novel melody. How is it possible for such a person to compose a novel melody? We should raise the flag of Islamic brotherhood with the help of all Muslim nations and we should try to promote moral virtues in society. Cooperation, forgiveness, assistance, patience: these are Islamic characteristics and we should promote these characteristics in society. All of these things can be subsumed under Islamic and revolutionary identity and faith, which is the first principle.

Some people think "Islam" and "faith" mean that we should close our eyes, reject whatever other people say and frown at any new comment and idea - just like the misguided people we witnessed in Afghanistan, just like those who have formed terror networks in Iraq and consider the entire world of Islam as being outside the framework of Islam. They are wearing a frown on their faces and their eyes are closed. And they are brandishing their swords in the air, shedding the blood of the people. That method is not our method.

Islamic Iran has its own flag. In all areas, even in the area of Islamic jurisprudence, we have people like Imam Khomeini (r.a.), a man who had those novel, brilliant and innovative ideas. This is why the kind of Islam that has been presented by Islamic Iran is popular among other nations. When focused on analyzing and understanding religion, Iranian talent, Iranian art, Iranian understanding and Iranian wisdom produce such good results. This is the meaning of Islamic identity and remaining committed to it.

The second principle is justice. Justice is the reason behind our existence. It is not logical to leave administration of justice until after we have prepared plans for economic growth and implemented some of them. Economic growth should be pursued along with justice. It is necessary to prepare plans in this regard and find the appropriate ways forward. What is justice? There might be differences of opinion regarding the meaning and interpretation of justice, but there are fixed and definite criteria: for example, reducing social distinctions, providing everybody with equal opportunities, encouraging honest and upright people and controlling those who try to steal from national sources of wealth, promoting justice in the structure of government - when installing and removing people, when making judgments and when expressing opinions - paying equal attention to metropolitan and underprivileged areas of the country, equitable allocation of the financial resources of the country and considering these resources as belonging to everybody in the country. These are among the definite criteria of justice, criteria that everybody agrees on. We must translate these criteria into action. Therefore, justice is a principle and it requires decisive action. It cannot be administered when we stand on ceremony with different people. The first requirement is decisive action. The second requirement is being in contact with the people. The third requirement is living a simple lifestyle, being populist and most importantly, engaging self-education and self-purification. Self-education is among the requirements of administration of justice because in order to administer justice, we first need to reform and improve ourselves. And this is the responsibility of people like you and I. We really have to fight corruption and those who appropriate the resources of our society.

The third principle is safeguarding political independence. This is very important. This is among the essential principles of the Islamic Republic. This independence is political and economic as well as cultural. We need to free ourselves from the shackles of the culture that the west has imposed on us. And this is another principle. The kind of movement, the kind of slogan, the kind of planning that ignores national independence is not principlist.

The fourth principle is national self-confidence. We need national self-confidence in every area. We have seen the examples in experimental sciences. One example is nuclear technology. Another example is production of stem cells. Other examples are the good achievements that have been made in different other areas. I do not want to make a premature announcement, but these achievements will push human knowledge forward. Of course, these are just part of the work that has been done. The effect of independence and national self-confidence is not limited to constructing dams and power plants. The effect is not limited to launching great projects without receiving help from foreigners. Rather, our self-confidence should reveal itself in politics, philosophy, public innovations and moral values as well. Notice that others hold idiotic ceremonies in the streets - such as bullfights - which inflict casualties on them. They make themselves an object of ridicule, yet they feel proud that they have a national custom. What they do is wrong, but their self-confidence is good: they do not feel ashamed. Imagine that we have an Islamic custom that has a logical basis. If we accept the logic behind the custom, we must not feel ashamed of it. I do not want to give an example in this regard. There are certain examples, but it is not advisable to mention them because we might have to get into the details. We can think of many examples. As far as moral values are concerned, it is necessary to put up a cultural fight against lack of self-confidence, which has been imposed on this country for decades. The luminaries and standard-bearers of our country's culture and politics shamelessly announced at a certain point that Iranians were nothing and that if they wanted to become something, they had to adopt European culture. The early pioneers of the intellectual movement in our country and the most famous Qajar and Pahlavi politicians announced this openly. There were some other people who did not announce this, but they acted like Iranians were nothing. As a result, this became a chronic malady in our society. It is necessary to fight this malady.

Scientific jihad is the fifth principle. I would like to stress that scientific jihad is among the pillars of principlism. I have been repeating this for several years: we must start a movement for production of knowledge in the country. In my meetings with our students and youth, I feel happy when they demand production of knowledge, highlight the need to create a link between science and industry and stress the necessity of state support for scientific progress and innovation. I tell them that I am very happy to hear these things and that they are repeating my own demands, which have become the norm in academic circles. But this is not enough. We need to move towards great achievements. Sometimes without receiving help from foreigners, you might be able to replicate airplanes that have been built by others. This is very good. It is better than just buying airplanes and using them. Some other times you might be able to build your own airplanes in the country. And this is what we need. We need to contribute to collective human knowledge. Do not say this is impossible. It is possible. There was a day when humanity was not familiar with nanotechnology. There might be hundreds of other such areas that are unknown to humanity. We can discover those areas of knowledge and move forward.

Of course, there are certain requirements, but those requirements can be met through strenuous efforts. In a meeting with our youth and academics, I once said that my expectations are not very high. I am only asking our scientific community to rank high in the world in terms of science over the next fifty years. Is this too much to expect from a talented nation? If we want this to happen, we need to start making strenuous efforts from today. In order to achieve this goal, we only need to avoid laziness and lack of vigilance. We only need to be generous. We only need to be courageous. We only need to train a competent workforce and give it the opportunity to work. In certain areas we are not far behind the world. In those areas we can intensify our efforts and this is another responsibility. The government has a responsibility to provide our youth with opportunities. Our youth are extremely eager to work and learn. The only condition is that we should provide them with the facilities they need. Thankfully, we do not have a shortage of good professors. There was a day during the early years of the Revolution when there was a serious shortage of professors. But the conditions have changed today and thankfully we have a large number of professors, many of whom have been trained inside the country.

The sixth principle is to consolidate and ensure freedom and freedom of thought. Freedom should not be misinterpreted. Freedom is one of the greatest blessings of God and freedom of thought is an offshoot of it. In the absence of freedom of thought, it is not possible to achieve growth in social, scholarly, intellectual and philosophical areas. One of the biggest mistakes is to boo those who introduce novel ideas in Islamic seminaries, universities, cultural settings and printed press. Let people think freely. Of course, I do not sanction misinterpretations relating to freedom. I do not sanction giving the enemies a free hand to spread poison in the cultural and political atmosphere of the country. I do not tolerate and I reject silent overthrow of the government: it was the Americans themselves who said this and their agents were naïve and stupid enough to announce it here a few years ago. But promoting freedom and preparing the ground for developing ideas, knowledge and understanding are not related to these things. One needs to exercise subtle judgment in order to set these two things apart from one another and draw a line between them. Freedom and freedom of thought are one of the main pillars of principlism.

The seventh principle is to reform and improve our methods. Reform is one of the pillars of principlism. Last year on my trip to Kerman, I met with a group of youth, students and academics and I said at the meeting that principlist reforms and reform-minded principlism are closely related to one another. The kind of reform that is based on American standards is like the reforms that were introduced by Reza Khan. You know that Reza Khan used to shout slogans of reform during the most important years of his rule. All the crimes and tragedies that took place during the time of Reza Khan were caused in the name of reforms. You can refer to the documents that are left from his time. They used to remove some people under the pretext that they were opposed to reforms, and they used to replace them with some other people, claiming that they had faith in reforms. The kind of reforms that are based on the standards of Reza Khan, America and western culture, are not reforms at all. Rather, they are just efforts to promote corruption. I delivered a few speeches in this regard during Friday prayers and elsewhere three, four years ago. Reforms should be principled and they should be based on Islamic and Iranian values and standards. The standard for reforms is the Constitution. We should introduce reforms on the basis of the Constitution. We are in need of reforms. Reforms rectify our methods. They rectify the goals that have been defined in stages. They rectify our decisions. They help us avoid insisting on wrong decisions. This is different from deconstruction and fighting the Constitution, Islam and national independence.

The last principle that I would like to discuss is economic blossoming and trying to improve the living conditions of the people and the conditions of our economy. We need to encourage investments. We need to promote entrepreneurship. We need to promote domestic production. We need to combat smuggling and corruption in a serious way. Creating employment opportunities should be one of the main goals. It is necessary to make our economic policies and regulations stable, transparent and coherent. Economic regulations which are approved today only to be changed tomorrow are useless. Our economic regulations should be stable so that the people can make plans on the basis of them. They should also be coherent, consistent and transparent. Global marketing is one of the most important responsibilities that we should shoulder in order to have economic prosperity in the country. And this is one of the things that we have failed to do, one of the shortcomings. We also need to report the latest activities and plans to the people. We need to keep these things in mind. Of course, the essential strategic plans of the country should not be ignored: the issue of having reliable foreign exchange reserves so that the economy of the country can withstand shocks, the issue of providing the necessary resources for production and investment, and the issue of introducing strategic plans to produce and transfer water and energy in the country. These things - which can be subsumed under economic development - will be among our most urgent needs over the next few years and it is necessary to follow them up in a serious way.

It is necessary to pay attention to regional cooperation - the ongoing work related to ECO, Shanghai and other organizations. We need to follow up these things in a serious way. We need to focus our efforts on them. We need to make optimal use of our oil resources. According to experts, it would take 900 billion dollars' worth of non-oil exports and trade to earn the 50, 60 billion we earn by selling oil. This is a very important point. We earn that much money by selling oil and we use it to take care of daily matters. This does not make sense. This money should be spent in a more careful way. We are wasting our oil. Of course, this is not a recent development. Our economy and development has been based on oil for decades and it is not possible to change this situation overnight. Ten, twelve years ago, I told our government officials that as far as oil is concerned, the situation will be satisfactory the day we are able to announce that we will increase and decrease our output on the basis of our national interests, the day we are able to announce that we want to decrease our oil exports and use our oil for purposes other than producing energy. Using oil to produce energy is the worst way of using oil. This is while the world is discovering better ways of using oil and it is moving forward. When that day comes, we can feel happy that we have these oil reserves.

There are certain challenges that have been imposed on us, both by ourselves - as a consequence of our weaknesses - and by others. Let us be frank. Today the most important foreign challenge that we are faced with has been imposed by America. There is no doubt in this regard. The west has had plans for the Middle East since the 19th century because the Middle East region connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. The Mediterranean Sea was where colonial governments used to deploy their forces and the Indian Ocean was where their colonies were located. And the Middle East was the region that connected these two locations to one another and they could not afford to ignore it. England used its influence in the 19th century and pressured Iran in order to protect India, which used to be Britain's colony at that time. We were sacrificed for India and the same was true of the entire Middle East region. This was how the foundations of Israel were laid. Different other factors emerged as well: the issue of oil, the issue of carving up the Ottoman territories after the First World War, the emergence of the Soviet Union. And the emergence of these factors made things worse.

The west and its heir, America, have plans for the Middle East. In this sensitive region - which is oil-rich and is strategically and politically important - suddenly a government called "the Islamic Republic" emerges with its own principles and opposes the oppressive principles and aggressive policies of America. Some people say, "Why do you provoke America?" It was you, the people of Iran, who provoked America: you established the Islamic Republic and now America has become hostile. What should we do? During the first decade of the Revolution, they started with "hard" plots - the imposed war and the economic sanctions - to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but they were not successful. The imposed war and the economic sanctions provided the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic with opportunities in one way or another. The dark clouds that they created above the heads of the people of Iran showered the people of Iran with advantages and benefits. The war made us more determined and steadfast. The economic sanctions they imposed on us made us think of relying on ourselves and they brought about all these blessings for us. Later on, they followed a policy of "soft" overthrow - cultural invasion - which did not get them anywhere. After many years, their efforts led to the establishment of an administration that relies on our principles, which makes it obvious that their cultural invasion has not been able to achieve the kinds of things they wanted. There will be other plots against us in the future as well and we need to make ourselves immune to those plots. Part of this immunity will come through unity, religious faith, wisdom and knowledge. I stress that if we close our eyes and move forward, we will not be able to move anything forward. It is necessary to move forward while keeping our eyes open, exercising caution, preserving our unity and using all the opportunities. Then all the problems will be resolved one after the other and the peaks will be conquered one after the other.

I had written down a number of recommendations regarding managerial issues and the responsibilities that lie on the shoulders of our government officials and managers. I wanted to discuss these recommendations in this meeting, but there was not enough time to do so and by Allah's favor, I will arrange another meeting to discuss them. As for the latest developments, Dr. Ahmadinejad made certain points about nuclear energy and the package proposed by Europe, which were the same points that were raised by the gentlemen who spoke in this meeting.

Dear God, make what we said and what we heard serve Your cause and accept them from us out of Your generosity. Dear God, make our behavior satisfactory to Yourself. Make us successful in what we will be questioned about after we die. Enlighten our hearts with the light of Your knowledge and guidance. Make the bond between You and us stronger on a daily basis. Strengthen the bond that keeps us together and connects us to the people and to believers.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings