How difficult is it to be the wife of the Ambassador in the Islamic country?


What is known about Ukraine in Iran? What has been done by our diplomats for the sake of advancement of national interests of Ukraine in this state? What are main peculiarities of the ladies dress-code in the Islamic Republic of Iran? The wife of the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine in the Islamic Republic of Iran Iryna Burdyliak reveals these secrets in the exclusive interview for the FD.

You are the wife of the Ambassador in the Islamic country. How difficult is it to carry out the functions of the Ambassador’s wife in such country as Iran?

– In Iran I was taken by surprise with the fact that the wives of the Ambassadors are invited to the procedure of the credential letters giving for the President Hassan Rouhani. Sincerely talking, wives are not invited for such a procedure in some democratic countries. I could not miss this opportunity. I was dressed in accordance with the Islamic dress-code. In black. Though, it was a choice of mine. The eyes of the President Rouhani impressed me very much so. He has charismatic, extremely clever and penetrating look. Mister President knows six languages and he got the education in Europe. Thus, his world vision is much wider than anybody could imagine.

Generally, the Iran of the mass-media cliché and the real Iran are rather different ones. Iran is a very welcoming, bright, friendly, dynamic and sincere state. And only being in this country one could feel the real taste of the country with the so unusual past.

The Iranians are very educated people. Some of them got education in Europe or in the USA. Rather often the Iranians get the second higher education being 40 or even 50 years old. It can be majoring in the foreign languages or in the history of arts. And the state provides an opportunity to get it for free. When it comes about dress code I would deny any discrimination of women in this sphere. Tehran is very picturesque, fur coats and traditional local ladies cloths are of different colours. And the young people look very fashionable and very stylish. When my elder daughter comes to visit us she strings a handkerchief in the fashion style of the 60ies and she is very glad to change her image. We, the ladies, are good hands in the transformation.

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The sphere in which women are not discriminated at all is the sphere of the service. Women do not sell fruits and vegetables. They do not sweep the streets and do not carry out any hard physical job at all. Is not it the highest level of the care about women?

In the family, the woman makes the things rolling like everywhere in the world. Sure, the strategic issues of the financial providing are in the responsibility of the men. But the managing of the life activity is delegated to the women. That is a very wise subdivision of the duties.

Is there a club in Iran that unites the wives of the Ambassadors? Do you take part in its activity?

– Sure, there is. Every week the wife of the Iranian minister of foreign affairs Lady Zarif organizes the meetings. She speaks English perfectly and she has been giving lectures in the spiritualism for the wives of the ambassadors and also she gets us acquainted with the Iranian culture and Iranian customs. The concerts of the folk music are often organized for us. We attend art exhibitions. I like the modern Persian miniature very much and I do not waste an opportunity to communicate with the painters and to delve into the mystical ream of the Persian artistic culture.

Is there Ukrainian Diaspora in Iran?

– It is not much spoken about, unfortunately…

Mostly it consists of Ukrainian women that got married with Iranians. Majority of them adopted Islam but in fact they are the main distributors of the Ukrainian culture. There was a Ukrainian school at the Embassy still when the predecessor of my husband worked there. It is the so-called Ukrainian Sunday school. If to talk about Muslim country reality the classes were given at this school on the Fridays and on the Saturdays. Nowadays the Embassy has moved to the new building and owing to this the school has a new building as well. There are new desks and new text-books. So, there is everything to teach the children. Living in the Muslim culture, the possibility to talk in Ukrainian, and to be in touch with Ukrainian culture is very important for them. Talking about promotion of the Ukrainian culture we must take into account the specificity of the Islamic culture. It is about special permission for the musical works to be performed at the stage. Male and female cannot be at the stage together. Even, if they are wife and husband. Because of it only the male artistic groups are invited to Iran. Before last year the Festival of the puppet theatres was held in Iran, and Ukraine participated in it, and it was a real holiday for the children.

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The most favourite holidays of the children are the New Year, the Christmas, and the Saint Nicolas Day. We carry gifts from Ukraine for everyone. For the little Ukrainians that visit Ukraine once a year it is very important to listen to the Ukrainian language and to know the Ukrainian traditions in order not to get assimilated.

Have you noticed any changes in the promoting of Ukraine due to the start of the activity of the Department of the Cultural and Public Diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine?

– Yes, since the last year we have received the funds for the promotion of Ukrainian culture. These funds can be contributed for the image oriented projects: for the art or photo exhibitions about Ukraine or to dub into Persian language a movie about Ukraine. There are many ideas and we work over their realization.

How difficult is it to be the wife of the Ambassador in the Islamic country?

Do you devote yourself and make the wives of other Ambassadors devote themselves to the charity in Iran?

– The charity provided by the wives of the foreign diplomats has become a good tradition in Iran. It includes the assistance for the patients with oncology and for the children from poor families.

The Persian language, the official language of Iran, is studied at the Kyiv National University. How does the students exchange between our countries function?

– The students from Ukraine visit Iran annually as well as the postgraduate students. I can say that there are many Ukrainians who have mastered Persian language professionally. And the students exchange between our countries is very dynamic one. It comes not only about linguistics. This year more than one thousand and a half of Iranian students have entered Ukraine to be majored in different specialties – for example, in medicine. Last year, there were only 150 students only. Iranians like Ukraine very much. They often visit Odessa. They love Kyiv.

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Also I must admit that the marriages between Iranians and Ukrainian women are very lasting ones and that talks about the mutual mentality of our peoples.

What can you say about the interest to the Ukrainian culture in Iran?

– Yes, Iranians are interested in Ukrainian culture and in Ukrainian language. The language is not studied yet, though my husband had proposed to set up a sub department of the Ukrainian language at the Tehran University. There is the previous agreement with the Kyiv National University named after Taras Shevchenko. Thus, the initiative is not from the Iranians but from us because we do understand that it will be a sort of Ukrainian lobby – in case we set the sub department of Ukrainian studies up. We, me and my husband, have been sophisticated in it – when my husband was a General Consul of Ukraine in Shanghai, we set up such sub department at the local university of the foreign languages. Doing the same in Tehran is rather difficult due to the lack of the qualified teachers from Iranian side. Talking about Iranians interested in Ukrainian culture we should remember that Ukrainian and Iranian peoples are linked by the ancient connections that go back deeply into the past. There are certain things in common in folklore and in the folk customs. Pre-Islamic religion of Iranians and Pre-Christian religion of Ukrainians had much in common either. So there are many people interested in Ukraine and we do our best to keep this interest up.

How difficult is it to be the wife of the Ambassador in the Islamic country?

What would you like to wish the readers of our edition?

First of all I would like to congratulate everybody on the Iranian New Year and the holiday of the spring known as Nowruz! This holiday has deep historical roots. The Ukrainians and the Persians are united, for example, in a common tradition to paint pysankas and dye krashankas. We do it at Easter, and the Iranians – at Nowruz. This proves the same worldview. Therefore, I wish our people understanding and tolerance in relationship. And what is more, wealth to families, health and peace! Nowruz mobarak!