New Grounds Available for Expansion of Iran's Relations with Europe

Friday, February 19, 2016

Abdolreza Farajirad
Professor of Geopolitics & Iran’s Former Ambassador to Hungary & Norway

Following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, Tehran is experiencing different conditions compared to the past. At present, it seems that following the achievement of the nuclear deal and beginning of its implementation, Iran has been given more maneuvering room than before and many countries are now taking steps to expand their relations with the Islamic Republic. The European Union, for its part, is making efforts to boost its relations with Iran. Iran and Europe have been involved in several rounds of dialogue and communications in past years. The first round of that dialogue was carried out under Iran's reconstruction administration and was known as the “critical dialogue.” However, after a while and when Iran's capabilities and power increased, Tehran announced that it was not willing to continue with those talks.

Following election of the reformist administration, Europeans once again felt the need to engage in new dialogue with Iran and called for the beginning of the second round of bilateral talks. For this reason, the second round of Iran's dialogue with Europe came to be known as the “comprehensive talks” which were carried out between the Islamic Republic and the European Union, and unlike the previous round, they were no more critical of Iran, but were carried out in an interactive manner and covered different issues. Nonetheless, those talks lost pace following the election of the ninth Iranian administration and came to a total halt after sanctions were imposed on Iran. Despite this situation, when Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran's new president and after his administration achieved JCPOA and pulled it off to implementation, the two sides once more felt the need to boost relations and engage in dialogue. Within this framework, the third round of Iran-European Union dialogue known as the “high-ranking negotiations” started between officials from Iran and the European Union. The first round of these talks was attended by the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief, Helga Schmid, in Tehran.

Her trip to Iran and previous negotiations paved the way for a recent visit to Brussels by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during which more important issues related to future outlook of Iran's relations with the European Union were discussed. Within the same framework, European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is scheduled to visit Iran at the head of a high-ranking economic and political delegation to not only discuss strengthening of bilateral relations, but also hold discussions with Iranian officials on major regional issues. In view of the above facts, it seems that Tehran and Brussels are going through a new experience to open a new chapter in their relations. Although many analysts believe that Iran and the European Union are going back to their past relations, I think that the level of bilateral relations is going even higher than where it stood before. At present, Europe has recognized Iran's basic role in the region more than any time before while, on the other hand, geopolitical issues in the Middle East are nagging Europe. European countries feel the insecurity that has resulted from Daesh group’s unbridled terrorism and instability is threatening the entire Europe.

The extensive wave of immigration from the Middle East toward Europe has currently turned into the most important crisis facing Europeans and Europe is well aware that Iran holds the key to stability and security in the Middle East. On the other hand, following the implementation of JCPOA and subsequent removal of sanctions, necessary grounds have been provided for further expansion of relations as well as economic cooperation between Iran and the European Union. It must also be noted that Saudi Arabia does not enjoy its previous importance as the axis of the Persian Gulf for European countries. Of course, Europe may not say this out loud, but Western media in addition to Western think tanks and intelligence agencies have been releasing reports on the destructive role that Saudi Arabia is playing in the Middle East and the negative role that this country is playing in the spread of terrorism. They know that Iran's assistance is vital in the fight against terrorism. All these grounds and factors enable us to say that at present, good and more grounds exist for the expansion of relations and various kinds of cooperation between Iran and the European Union compared to any time in the past.

Key WordsNew Grounds, Iran, Relations, Europe, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), P5+1, Comprehensive Talks, High-Ranking Negotiations, Helga Schmid, Federica Mogherini, Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Farajirad

Source: Etemad Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: IRNA

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