Iran Should Expand Relations with European Parliament

Friday, December 27, 2013

Said Khaloozadeh
Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Paris, Senior Expert in European Studies & University Professor

A recent visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran by a delegation representing the European Parliament and subsequent meetings and negotiations with the Iranian officials can be very important and have profound effects on the Islamic Republic’s relations with the European Union and the European Parliament. It seems that the European Parliament’s visit should be reciprocated by an official delegation consisting of the members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Iran Majlis). The Iranian representatives must travel to either Brussels (the European Union headquarters) or Strasburg (seat of the European Parliament) in order to meet and confer with their European counterparts. At present juncture, presence of the Islamic Republic’s representatives in the European Union is of very high significance. Such a presence should be focused on both the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, and Strasburg, where the European Parliament is based. As such, Iran should dispatch experts, who should have adequate experience for working with the European Parliament, in order to start a new round of relations, consultations and interactions with the European parliamentarians.

Hannes Swoboda, who currently heads the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, visited Iran recently and held various meetings with different Iranian officials. Although such visits have not led to a new opening in the nearly frozen relations between Iran and the member states of the European Union, they can help to depict a positive outlook for the future expansion of relations between the two sides.

Generally speaking, the European Parliament follows a less radical and more liberal approach to various international issues compared to the Council of the European Union (also known as the EU Council). As a result, the representatives of the European Parliament and different parliamentary factions have more maneuvering room to give voice to their viewpoints and take positions on various issues that are related to the European countries’ foreign relations. Although the decisions made by the EU Council lack executive guarantees for implementation and have, thus, little impact on the relations between the European states and third countries, there is no doubt that their views will be influential and be used by the council of the European ministers. The European Parliament can even adopt resolutions to regulate the quality of relations with other countries or express its views on various issues, which are usually taken up by the member states of the EU Council.

Following the 11th presidential election in Iran that was held on June 14, 2013, and through which Dr. Hassan Rouhani was elected as the new Iranian president, the European Parliament has been taking a more positive approach to the aforesaid election and its result. Consequently, the member states of the parliament have frequently announced their interest and readiness to exchange views with the Iranian officials. A visit to Iran last week by an official delegation representing the European Parliament can be also considered along the same lines.

It seems that following the European Parliament’s visit to Iran, it is necessary for an official delegation comprising members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly to set off for Brussels or Strasburg to meet and confer with their European parliamentary counterparts. Such a trip and the exchange of views will be certainly a source of positive effects on bilateral relations. It will also allow the two sides to have a better understanding of each other and of various issues that stand in the way of further expansion of bilateral relations. Of course, terrorist members of Mojahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), who are present at the European Parliament, will try to thwart this process by feeding incorrect and biased information to members of the European Parliament. Therefore, we must not allow the European lawmakers to obtain much of the news and information that they receive about Iran from the MKO representatives.

Today, the presence of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the European Parliament has become more important than any time before. Such a presence should focus on both the European Union in Brussels and on the seat of the European Parliament in Strasburg. Tehran should dispatch seasoned experts with good experience on the European Parliament to those places in order to trigger a new round of parliamentary relations and consultations with the European sides. Of course, such exchanges should be purposive and be carried out in accordance with a meticulous schedule within framework of a well-defined strategy. Otherwise, the mere engagement in purposeless talks and meetings will be of little, if any, value.

Given the new trend in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, which are widely supposed to bear positive fruit this time, the future relations between Iran and the member states of the European Union are expected to further develop in the future. Under these circumstances, it is very necessary for Iran to start providing proper grounds for the expansion of exchanges with the representatives of the European Parliament as of now. Such exchanges will not only pave the way for the continued and purposive meetings and dialog between the two sides, but will also allow Iran to provide the European countries with correct and true information and statistics on the situation in the Islamic Republic. As a result, the way will be cleared for the establishment of extensive relations between the two sides in the near future.

Key Words: Iran, European Parliament, European Union, Islamic Consultative Assembly (Iran Majlis), EU Council, Expansion of Bilateral Relations, MKO, Khaloozadeh

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