Iran's Expectations from EU after Winning the Nobel Peace Prize 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Behzad Khoshandam
Expert on International Issues

Granting the Nobel Peace prize of 2012 to the European Union (EU) has been discussed and interpreted from various angles by Iranian academics, elites, civil society activists, journalists, and citizens, especially those who support further strengthening of ties between Iran and the EU. Some Iranians consider granting the prize to the EU a positive step aimed at promoting peace and security across the world. On the other hand, there are other groups which have taken a critical approach to the Nobel Foundation’s decision and have taken the Foundation to task for it.

From the viewpoint of critical Iranian groups, the coincidence between the EU’s winning of the Nobel Peace prize and a recent decision by the EU heads of state to impose new sanctions against Iran is a cause of surprise. They say the measure should raise more doubts about the positive and peaceful nature of the EU’s measures towards Iran. They also argue that the development proves that it only took three days (from October 12 to 15) between the winning of the Nobel Peace prize of 2012 by the EU and the Union’s decision to intensify sanctions against a pacifist Middle Eastern country like Iran.

Therefore, these critical Iranian groups also believe that giving the aforesaid prize to the 27-member bloc should cause it to make a serious revision in its currently passive approach to political equations in regions around it, and its mere concentration on efforts to maintain peace and security within borders of the Union and making peace only for the European citizens.

Therefore, from the viewpoint of Iranian critics of the EU, granting the Nobel Peace prize – as an international prize – to the EU can be only important if that Union pays more serious and more independent attention to peripheral regions. They say the prize should make the EU change its attitude toward important Middle Eastern countries – including Iran which respects many modern European norms and concerns – and choose for a more constructive attitude based on mutual respect.

In view of the current hectic conditions in the Middle East, what Iranians generally expect from the EU is that the Union, as winner of the Nobel Peace prize and given various aspects of its soft power and high capacities for making collective decisions, should avoid being influenced by warmongering trends which aim to foster violence among countries. In doing so, they argue, the EU will provide necessary grounds for the establishment of respectful relationship based on constructive interaction with other countries of the world.

It is a reality that during the past months, the EU has caused a freeze in relations with Iran after adopting and implementing unilateral sanctions which had been originally approved on July 26, 2010. However, after winning the prize, and considering that the EU has been known as a symbol of peace efforts in international equations during the past six decades, Iranians do not expect the Union as well as its members and related institutions to work systematically and purposefully to provide grounds for undermining relations between the two sides.

At the moment, most Iranian people believe that undermining trade, economic, political, and strategic relations between these two important political players under current circumstances would be a grave mistake which would also have dramatic effects on the existing regional and international equations that are based on the existing capacities of relations between Iran and the EU.

Iranians by no means believe that the European Union which has been able to win the Nobel Peace prize will turn into a direct or indirect tool in the service of certain political lobbies as well as industrial and military interest groups.

What the current generation of Iranians expects from the EU is to recognize Iran with its historical, peace-seeking, valuable and effective identity, and as an important and strategic county at regional and global levels. EU’s effort to help rebuild Iran's relations with other global power poles, including with the Western side of the Atlantic; pursuing depoliticization and desecuritization in mutual relations between Iran and the EU; and showing respect for political will and demands of this wronged nation are some of the other important expectations that Iranians have from the EU and European people in general.

“Peace with countries,” prevention of war, making efforts to stop ongoing wars as well as proving its serious intention to prevent war in the EU’s relations with other countries, including Iran, can be key factors to resetting future relations between Iran and the European Union. The quality of interactions between the EU and Iran in the future is one of the factors which will be judged by the world history in coming decades. The future analysts will wonder whether to praise the Nobel Foundation for giving the Nobel Peace prize to the EU or take it to ask for having used Iran as “scapegoat” in its interactions with other world powers in order to guarantee its strategic and material interests!

Europeans should not forget that just in the same way that the time interval between obtaining the Nobel Peace prize and adopting new unilateral sanctions against Iran was only three days, the peace and security in the Middle East can be done away with in even less than three days. However, it will take decades for the international system to restore security and stability to this region.

Key Words: Iran's Expectations, EU, Nobel Peace Prize, Sanctions, Middle East, Depoliticization and Desecuritization, Khoshandam

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