MEP: Fragile momentum to improve EU-Iran relations

Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66), believes there are opportunities to rebuild contacts between Europe and Iran. At the end of a five-day visit to Iran with a delegation of MEPs she says: 'The momentum for greater openness is both real and fragile. While the streets are abuzz with hope and optimism, the moderate President Rohani has to deal with hardliners who prefer to keep Iran isolated. Now that the criticism on the temporary deal is growing more vocal in the US Congress as well, the European Union has to urge all parties not to give up, but to follow through. To do that, trust is crucial and that is still very fragile."  Careful optimism After an initial deal on the nucleair program was closed in Geneva, the delegation from the European Parliament is looking to find out whether there is room for contact and dialogue on issues of mutual concern. Schaake is carefully optimistic: "The highly educated young generation is yearning for a better life and wants opportunities instead of an economy hampered by sanctions and bad governance. We have emphasised that human rights are a priority for the EU and we received assurances that Iran wants to re-establish a human rights dialogue. Iran has also invited the UN High Commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay." European embassy Aside from human rights, we also spoke about terrorism in the Middle East and the need to stop the war in Syria. Drugs smuggling through Iran from Afghanistan also leads to problems for which the EU and Iran could find a joint approach. "To address problems in Iran, from human rights to the reception of Afghan refugees, it is crucial that the EU has its own diplomatic representation in Tehran. We play an important role in leading the nuclear negotiations, but there are also other issues that we can better address directly. The different ambassadors from member states would also prefer a European representation. We must seize this momentum that was created by the more open stance of the new President and the temporary nuclear deal."