The Logic Behind EU Tehran Office

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By Said Khaloozadeh* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN) - Every time that the European Union (EU) has established an independent diplomatic mission in a country, it has been construed as a sign of the willingness of the EU member states to promote their relations with that country. Therefore, it seems that the European Union has decided to improve and promote the level of its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In order to achieve that goal, one good way is to open an independent embassy in the Iranian capital city of Tehran. This will also open the way for future negotiations between the two sides on the conclusion of a bilateral trade and cooperation agreement, and will also help Tehran and the EU to further strengthen their mutual relations. The next stage will be the opening of an independent embassy by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the seat of the EU in the Belgian capital city of Brussels, which will be a further sign of improvement in bilateral relations

According to recent reports, the European Union has recently made an unofficial announcement to the European Parliament, indicating its willingness to establish an independent diplomatic mission in Iran.

Tarja Cronberg, member of the European Parliament (EP), who headed an EP delegation in an official visit to Iran recently, has been quoted as saying that the ambassadors of the EU member states have lent their support to the idea of opening a representative office in Tehran. She noted that in a meeting with the EU ambassadors to Tehran, they have emphasized the need to increase exchanges in various fields between the Islamic Republic and the EU member states. They had also supported the EU decision to inaugurate an embassy or special representative office in Tehran as a first step toward all-out improvement of bilateral ties.

This issue, for its turn, can be considered very important. Generally speaking, the EU will only decide to open an embassy in a country when that country has a number of characteristics.

Firstly, the overall level of relations between the two sides should be quite high. Secondly, there should be no specific political problem in relations between the two sides. And thirdly, both sides should be able to reach an agreement on the need to sign an accord on bilateral economic cooperation in order to further strengthen and institutionalize their relations. Therefore, the mere decision by the EU to establish its diplomatic mission in a country is a telltale sign of the importance that the EU attaches to promoting its relations with that country.

It seems that there is a set of specific reasons, which has prompted the European Union to make such a decision for further promotion of its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Firstly, the result of the recent presidential election in Iran, which led to the triumph of moderate Iranian politicians led by President Hassan Rouhani, has been warmly welcomed by the EU. As a result, the general literature used by the EU and its member states vis-à-vis Iran has changed.

Secondly, signing of the recent nuclear agreement [between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers] in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 24, has paved the way for the EU to reach a final solution for the existing standoff with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.

Thirdly, the determination of the EU and its member countries for the improvement of relations with Iran should be also taken into account as an important factor.

Willingness

In fact, during past years, the EU has frequently declared its willingness to normalize and expand its relations with Iran. The Iranian nuclear case, however, caused great concern among the EU member countries and they insisted that before any measure is taken to upgrade bilateral ties, the nuclear issue should be resolved through diplomatic dialog and negotiations.

The EU, in fact, considered the nuclear issue a stumbling block on the way of improvement of its relations with Iran. The fourth factor, which has played a role in this regard, is the will and interest of the Islamic Republic of Iran to normalize and improve its relations with the member countries of the EU. This has been also a very important factor in prompting the EU to make its recent decision. On the other hand, Iran has a great market with a population of over 77 million, which can offer exceptional economic and trade opportunities to the European countries and companies, and they should not easily miss these opportunities.

Considering the above facts, it seems that the European Union is really bent on improving and promoting its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, one of the best ways for the EU to do so is to establish its independent diplomatic mission in the Iranian capital.

Such a development will certainly pave the way for the conclusion of a comprehensive trade cooperation agreement between the two sides, which will further strengthen bilateral relations. The next stage will be for Iran to open its own independent embassy in the headquarters of the EU in the Belgian capital city of Brussels. This will be taken as further evidence to real improvement of bilateral relations.

*Said Khaloozadeh is Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Paris, Senior Expert in European Studies and University Professor. This article was originally published on January 6, 2014 in Iran Review with the headline EU Decision to Open Tehran Office Aimed at Bolstering Ties. It is being is being reproduced – with slight modifications – by arrangement with them. [IDN-InDepthNews – January 08, 2014]

Image credit: Iran Review

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