EU, Iran likely to enter new path in ties

By Aynur Karimova

The European Union has expressed its intention to become again the main trade partner of Iran.

“We used to be Iran’s main trade partner and we are determined to take up that position again,” The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini said addressing a joint press-conference with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on April 16.

She arrived in Tehran, Iran on April 16 on a one-day visit heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation comprised of seven European commissioners.

The EU high representative touched upon the energy issue and said the “Iranian oil and gas will be an important part of European energy mix and will improve our energy security in Europe”.

The EU will provide Iran with technical assistance to increase its production capacity and energy efficiency, according to Mogherini.

Speaking about the issues agreed upon or being discussed during the ongoing talks, she said the EU will give its support for Iran to join the World Trade Organization, and added that the sides have agreed to exchange business delegations and to cooperate on financial issues, on tourism, textiles and agriculture.

Mogherini went on to add that Iran’s missile tests do not breach the nuclear deal with the world powers.

“We do not see the missile tests as a breach of the JCPOA,” she noted. “This doesn’t mean that we are not concerned.”

In his remarks, Zarif said that Iran’s recent missile tests are only for defensive purposes.

“Iran’s missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads and have nothing to do with the JCPOA or the UN Security Council Resolutions,” he stressed.

Earlier in March, Iran test-fired Qadr-H and Qadr-F ballistic missiles during large-scale drills, code-named Eqtedar-e-Velayat.

The U.S. sources have claimed that Iran’s missile tests violate the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the JCPOA.

Iranian officials have constantly reiterated that Tehran’s ballistic missile tests do not violate the nuclear agreement it reached with the P5+1 group of countries and are not in breach of a UN Security Council resolution.

In a joint statement on January 16, 2016, the EU and Iran announced the implementation of the JCPOA, aka nuclear deal, and the removal of economic sanctions on Iran.

The EU confirmed that the legal framework, providing for lifting of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, is effective, according to the statement.

Iran’s officials believe that the EU’s cooperation with Iran in implementation of the JCPOA will benefit the EU in both economic and political areas.

Experts believe that the Iran-EU cooperation will help Iran’s development, as well as peace in the crisis-hit region.

Joint statement issued

Following the press conference, Mogherini and Zarif issued a joint statement, according to which the two parties welcomed the implementation of the JCPOA that contributed to opening a new chapter in the EU-Iran relations.

The sides also underlined their full commitment to the JCPOA and its implementation in all its aspects.

Mogherini and Zarif also reiterated their intention to develop a broad and comprehensive agenda for bilateral cooperation.

The two sides, taking stock of their long standing relations, based upon mutual respect and interests, underlined their intention to develop a broad and comprehensive agenda for bilateral cooperation, said the statement.

The statement also reads that the EU and Iran intend to cooperate in various areas, including political consultations, human rights, economic cooperation, trade and investment, agriculture, transportation, energy and climate change, as well as civil nuclear field, environment, science, research and innovation, education, civil protection, culture, migration, drugs and regional issues.

All to win

Officials and experts have appreciated the results of Mogherini’s visit to Tehran.

Mehrdad Emadi, a consultant at the UK-based Betamatrix International Consultancy told Trend that the expansion of relationship and engagement between the EU and Iran is a win-win outcome for both sides, as well as entire region.

While responding to a question about outcomes of the visit, he said “indeed, I expect it will become a win-win-win result benefiting the EU, Iran and Iran’s neighbors.”

He believes that this visit is a significant step in widening the EU-Iran relationship and may include other areas of cooperation such as support of the EU toward the attainment of full membership of the WTO and at a later phase, supporting Iran’s desire to become a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“For Iran, a growing and deepening relationship with the EU will provide noticeable improvements in its access to advanced technologies, significant industrial investment in its manufacturing and upgrading of its facilities in its aging energy sector,” he added.

Emadi believes that this visit to Tehran is aimed to deliver tangible and quick results on all these fronts, specifically on access to banking services in the EU.

He said if the EU foreign policy chief and the delegation accompanying her show a clear commitment to delivering results, then Iran will have an added incentive to expand links with the EU.

Moreover, the political leadership of Iran will be able to see consistency in EU cooperation following the P5 +1 agreement which will provide further grounds for confidence building between the two sides in other areas of mutual interest, the expert added.

“In addition to these potential benefits, it is worth remembering that, even with the existing hesitancy of EU banks and industries to engage with Iran, we have already seen business agreements in excess of 14 billion euros with Germany, Italy, France and Spain and further 3.3 billion euros worth of investment from businesses in the UK and the Netherlands is being negotiated,” he said. “These deals have been reached in less than six months following the lifting of the sanctions, and there are estimated 55 billion euros of trade and investment waiting to be discussed between the two sides.”

Iran’s acceptance as a full member of the WTO will bring about similar benefits to those enjoyed by China. Even-handed treatment of Iranian goods in outside markets, access to global finance and investment projects undertaken by Iran outside the country will all be areas of great improvement. Not only Iran, but also its neighbors will get benefits from all these areas.

EU, Iran can co-op in nuclear field

Behrooz Kamalvandi, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman, believes that Iran and the EU have great opportunity for cooperation in the nuclear field, which will not be like many other countries’ cooperation for Iran is able to offer special services.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting between Mogherini and Zarif, Kamalvandi said the special opportunity comes from two aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, Trend correspondent reported on April 16.

“The first aspect is that Iran needs to be producing about 10 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, and the second is that the country has a lot of expert human resources. We can offer help to the other sides, which means a different kind of cooperation with Europeans,” he added.

Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter @Aynur_Karimova

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