Will Iran allow the EU to Open Shop in Tehran?

By Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

The European Union Parliament passed a resolution Oct. 25 calling for normalization of relations with Iran — a decision that Tehran cautiously welcomed.

In response to the resolution, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that the EU Parliament seeks “renormalization and expansion of long-term relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He added, “This shows the positive will of the European entity for extending and deepening all-out bilateral relations with Iran.”

However, the day after the resolution passed, the chief of the Iranian judiciary’s Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said, “There are a lot of flaws in the resolution. … The document regards Iran as a market for the sale of European goods.”

Noting the EU’s plans to establish an office in Tehran, Larijani added, “It would be no problem if this office pursues trading issues, but they have stated that after establishing the office, they want to establish close contacts with human rights advocates so they can ensure the process of human rights implementation. Thus, they should know that the judicial system will definitely not allow such a nest of corruption to be established in Iran.”

During a joint press conference Oct. 26 with his visiting Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, President Hassan Rouhani expressed Iran’s willingness to enter into further dialogue with the EU. Reformist Etemaad newspaper, in its Oct. 27 edition, described Rouhani’s remarks as “a green light to the EU.”

Furthermore, in an Oct. 27 interview with Vaghaye Etefaghie newspaper, spokesman Qassemi reacted to Larijani’s remarks on the judiciary opposing an EU office in Tehran, saying, “The permission [for such a move] is given by the administration. … Most EU countries have embassies in Tehran, and in fact, the mentioned office is similar to an embassy.”

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