EU Mission Should Focus on Economy, Diplomacy

EU Mission Should Focus on Economy, DiplomacyEU Mission Should Focus on Economy, Diplomacy

Lawmakers called on the government to ensure that the prospective EU mission in Tehran will pursue an agenda limited to diplomatic and economic affairs.

"The establishment of the EU office in Tehran is acceptable only if it is aimed at building diplomatic and economic relations. But if there are other motivations such as meddling in our national affairs and questioning the system, it should be disallowed," Mohammad Javad Jamali told ICANA on Monday.

It was agreed in a joint statement during a trip by EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to Iran in mid-April that the bloc would open a full diplomatic mission in Tehran.

It has tasked two diplomats in the Dutch Embassy with pursuing the establishment of the office.

Jamali's warning came after Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-Ravanchi said the process is underway and is expected to be completed in a few months.

However, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi played down expectations for the opening of the office any time soon.

"The issue of an EU office has been mooted by Europeans since a year ago and we are now studying it. We have no definite time for opening the office," he told a weekly press conference.

The joint statement said, "To facilitate the program of cooperation as set out [in the statement] and with a view to preparing the future opening of an EU Delegation in Tehran, in accordance with rules and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an EU liaison team will be sent to Tehran."

The two sides also expressed determination to enhance and promote human rights by engaging in dialogue through the exchange of visits of delegations, according to the statement.

  Judiciary's Misgivings

Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary of Iran's High Council for Human Rights and advisor to the judiciary chief on international affairs, had voiced strong opposition to the opening of the mission, calling it "a den of corruption".

"EU intends to forge close relationships with human rights advocates and non-government organizations, so the judiciary will prevent the opening of this office," he said.

Jamali stressed that if the office is intended as a cover to interfere in Iran's internal affairs, it should be banned.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the Foreign Ministry is expected to prevent the assignment of diplomats to the office who have a history of raising human rights issues.

"The ministry should approve EU diplomats with a background of working in the economic sector," he said.

Takht-Ravanchi is slated to lead an Iranian delegation to Brussels, Belgium today for a second round of high-level talks with the European Union aimed at widening bilateral cooperation after last year's landmark nuclear deal eased sanctions against Iran.

The delegation includes a number of human rights officials.

The plan for high-level consultations was announced in a late-July 2015 press conference attended by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mogherini who was on a visit to Tehran days after the conclusion of the historic accord involving Iran, six major powers and the European Union.

It went into effect six months later to subject Tehran's nuclear program to time-bound curbs in return for relief from international sanctions.

Iran and the EU have agreed to hold meetings in Tehran and Brussels twice a year.


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