EU Embassy in Teheran Not Planned Despite Improving Relations

Written by | Monday, November 4th, 2013

The EU has no plans to open an embassy in Iran despite recent progress in nuclear talks, said a source from the European External Action Service (EEAS). Though a possible initial step may be to post a diplomat from the EEAS at one of the approximately 15 EU countries’ embassies in Tehran, even this scenario has been ruled out for the time being. According to a recent statement by the EEAS, “Any future decision on the opening of an EU delegation in Tehran would be taken in the light of a detailed political evaluation.” Earlier, it was the European Parliament that urged the EEAS to consider opening of an EU delegation in Teheran.“ Tarja Cronberg, a Finnish Green MEP who heads the parliament’s delegation to Iran, added: “There is a window of opportunity for the EU to be seized in order to formulate its own policy towards Iran.” Though the Embassy of Iran in Brussels declined to answer if it would welcome an EU mission in Tehran at this stage, it said it has good day-to-day relations with EU diplomats.
The negative EEAS statement also comes while some progress was reported in the so-called E3+3 talks. The E3+3 group – chaired by the Head of EEAS, Catherine Ashton, and which includes senior officials from Russia, the UK, the U.S., China, France, Germany – is seeking assurances from Teheran that it is not making a nuclear weapon. In terms of EU interests, Iran is widely seen as a serious potential security threat while it is also a potential ally for stabilising Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. But it is also a not-so-distant potential market of 76 million highly educated people with oil and gas wealth and decent infrastructure.
Apart from the E3+3 and the EEAS, the German, Italian and Swedish embassies in Tehran are possibly those with most contact with Iranian authorities. Another problem is that Iranian officials rarely agree to meet the European diplomats. Already as early as in 2002, the EU proposed embedding an EU representative with one of the EU countries‘ embassies in Iran, who would switch every six months from one member state’s embassy to another’s, in line with whoever held the bloc’s rotating presidency at the time. However, Teheran said it wanted a fully-fledged EU mission or nothing. But relations deteriorated on the nuclear issue and the EU envoy idea melted away.

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