Iran’s Constructive Role in Relation to European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Behzad Ahmadi Lafouraki
The Research deputy in Tehran International Studies & Research Institute,
Analyst of EU and NATO affairs
Just a few days after Britons voted for their country to get out of the European Union (EU), the EU presented its new strategy document as the main framework for redefining the bloc’s future common foreign and security policy. The question is “what are the main points of this strategy and to what extent these main points are related to Iran’s role?” It must be noted that the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy has been based on five main principles, which include peace, security, prosperity and progress, democracy and the rule of law. Due to many reasons, these values are related to the role that Iran plays not only in West Asia region, but also at global level.
First of all, the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy must boost security of member states of the bloc in the face of such threats as terrorism and energy security. Therefore, Iran plays a very important role with regard to the EU’s energy security, the fight against terrorism, as well as the war on Daesh and other extremist groups, especially Salafi groups. Secondly, the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy means to bolster resilience of states and societies over a wide expanse, from Central Asia in the east to the Central African Republic in the west, in order to stabilize the existing fragile states in these regions. This issue would mean that the European Union is to show a special focus on increasing resilience of transitional societies. With regard to this issue, Iran is playing a very important role through managing waves of immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and also through its impact on the resilience of the existing governments in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
A document, which was released by the European Parliament about relations between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran a few months ago, noted that Iran is a dominant country in the region, enjoys huge gas reserves and is also an important partner for the EU in such an unstable region as West Asia. Therefore, Iran’s strategic position in West Asia cannot be ignored. At the same time, the latest document on the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy has touched upon Iran’s role in this regard and has laid emphasis on the necessity of adopting a comprehensive approach to resolving the existing disputes and crises through cooperation between Europe and other international and regional actors. Iran also plays an important role in resolving the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic Republic supports the existing nation-states in the region and seeks to preserve the order that is currently in place in the region. The country also plays a very important stabilizing role with regard to a great number of regional conflicts.
Thirdly, according to recent document of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, the bloc is bent on supporting regional orders across the world. Iran can also play an important role in this regard. At the present time, conditions are such that security is defined in a vertical manner from the lower levels toward the upper ones and this means that regional security is prerequisite for security of global order. As a result, the European Union believes that resolution of conflicts and promotion of human rights norms in South countries, including in countries around the Mediterranean as well as African and Middle Eastern states is a key element in confrontation with terrorist threats and challenges that are related to democracy. As a result, while pursuing a policy of principles pragmatism, which means supporting and promoting accepted values as much as possible, the European Union also intends to pursue balanced engagement in the Persian Gulf region in order to boost cooperation with countries in this region. The common policy document also aims to gradually generalize the model, which was used to achieve a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries, to cooperation in other spheres such as trade, research, environment, energy, the fight against drug trafficking, the issue of immigration, and other major challenges. If this happens, we would once again see Iran playing a key role with regard to all these issues.
Last but not least, according to the European Union’s strategy, the bloc must further develop and promote the process that aims to rectify global governance on the basis of internationally accepted norms in order to gain more respect, facilitate sustainable development and also to have access to global trade. In this regard, the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy has noted that the bloc has served to develop a global order based on the rule of law, which is also multilateral. The nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been mentioned as a major achievement for the European Union with regard to promoting international and regional norms and, finally, preserving the status quo. On the whole, one can claim that following the conclusion of the JCPOA and developments in regional order in West Asia, the dynamism for boosting effective cooperation between Iran and the European Union, especially with regard to bolstering stability and security in West Asia, has increased. As a result, in case of having Iran’s cooperation, the European Union will have better opportunities to implement a higher number of articles of its Common Foreign and Security Policy.
*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.