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A new start: the EU should establish a representation in Iran

Parliament Magazine 18.10.2013

We got the best possible outcome. The latest negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme in Geneva resulted in a new date being set for further negotiations. For the first time, Iran and the six powers agreed upon a joint, although rather short and factual, statement. The atmosphere during the meeting has been described as positive. Iran presented an outline of a plan that could form the basis for further negotiations. This plan 'is being carefully considered by the E3+3 as an important contribution.' For the first time in years, Iran and the six powers have entered into detailed discussions on the future of the Iranian nuclear programme. There are reports stating that not much of what was on the table has in fact changed. There are, however, other reports bearing witness to the most valuable thing of all: political will. Both sides appear to be prepared to listen and seem to be committed to enter into discussions on a solution regarding the fate of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme; after four years of dribbling petty issues back and forth.

Iran has signalled that it wants immediate results and does no longer intend to play for time. This has provided all parties with a window of opportunity that must be seized.

Iran is expected to follow a series of confidence building measures. The European Union should be ready to respond to this. The opportunity for change must be seized by both sides. It is vital that the EU steps up its diplomacy towards Iran and goes beyond the nuclear talks. The best way to do this would be to establish a dialogue on human rights and to set up an EU representation in Iran. Breaking Iran's isolation could improve security for all parties involved. There are serious problems to be tackled and solved in the region, which requires close co-operation for mutual benefit. The war in Syria and drug trafficking are only two examples. The launch of a special EU webpage available in Farsi is a good sign of Brussels realising the strategic significance of relations with Iran.

There are a number of open questions for which the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty does not provide answers. There are, for instance, no regulations specifying the extent to which uranium can be enriched for peaceful purposes. Can it stay in the country or should it be transported abroad? A successful resolution of the problems pertaining to Iran's nuclear programme could serve as a model for other countries abandoning their nuclear programmes in the future.

The Iranian people, who voted against the hardliners in the presidential election, should be given proof that the elections counted and that voting pays back.

Tarja Cronberg is Head of the European Parliament´s Iran delegation and a member of the foreign affairs committee and its subcommittee on security and defence.

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