Europe Looks Closer at Iran Trade Channels

Europe Looks Closer  at Iran Trade Channels Europe Looks Closer  at Iran Trade Channels

The chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, who is on a visit to Tehran at the head of a high-level parliamentary delegation, said European countries are keen to increase cooperation with Iran to foster diversity in their trade relations.

“Considering the great economic potential of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there exist favorable opportunities for expansion of bilateral ties,” Elmar Brok was quoted by IRNA as saying in a meeting with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani on Saturday, adding, “European countries feel a need for (increased) trade with Iran to help diversify their trade channels.”

Pointing to the alarming expansion of terrorism, Brok said, “Terrorist groups are a common enemy of mankind as well as regional peace and security,” saying, “So all countries should put their differences aside and cooperate to help find political solutions to the problem of Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).” Larijani highlighted the “good history” of bilateral trade, saying, “Economic cooperation between Iran and Europe will help serve their common interests, and holding parliamentary talks and consultations will facilitate financial and economic transactions between the two sides.”

He referred to efforts by Iran in the campaign against drug trafficking, saying, “Iran-Europe joint campaign against smuggling narcotics, produced in Afghanistan to be sent to Europe, is among the important areas of cooperation between the two sides.”

  New Vistas

Brok also sat down with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday.

In the meeting, Brok said the European Union attaches great significance to the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China), aimed at resolving a long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

He expressed hope that with the conclusion of the prospective nuclear deal, new vistas would open for expansion of bilateral cooperation in various areas and on regional and international issues.  

Zarif denounced the continued support of some regional countries for terrorist groups, particularly Islamic State (IS) militants, lamenting, “This is while (these countries) forever resort to anti-terrorism rhetoric.”

  Building Confidence

A senior member of the European Parliament said the visit by the parliamentary delegation to Tehran could play an important confidence-building role toward meeting the end-of-June deadline to finalize the nuclear accord, according to EU Reporter.    

Socialist and Democrat MEP Richard Howitt, the EP spokesperson on foreign affairs, said he believed that the visit could send a signal, both to conservatives and reformers in Iran of the EP’s sincerity toward lifting sanctions and helping the country to open up if a deal is achieved.

Howitt said, “Clearly the negotiations are proceeding in Vienna but the talks this weekend can contribute to a climate of confidence building which can make the very difficult concessions which need to be made perhaps a little easier.

“The meetings in the Iranian Majlis in particular will allow us to meet some of the critics of the negotiations, and seek to demonstrate our own firm resolve, but also good faith toward a potential new relationship with the country.”

He said the Socialist and Democrat Group has always called for dialogue including through the opening of an EU representation in Tehran and believes Iran should “be engaged both in the interests of its own people and in working toward conflict resolution across the wider region.”

“Of course there are deep concerns which will be right for European members to raise, but the timing of this visit is no coincidence given the importance and proximity of the deadline for achieving a nuclear deal.”