We Should Not Be Pessimistic about Europe
At the moment, Europe is also a center of modern technology transfer, even
in comparison with China and Japan.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, a meeting between
Iran and Group 4+1 was held, in which the EU unveiled a new approach for
cooperation with Iran. The mechanism used to dismantle US sanctions and
pressure. In order to examine how this mechanism was used, we conducted an
interview with an experienced EU foreign relations expert. Mehrdad Emadi, an
economic expert, sees this as a unique opportunity to improve Iranís foreign
trade relations and believes that Iran should make the most of the proposal
to create a payment system. Referring to the positive and negative points of
this package, he said that, ultimately, this EU approach should not be
viewed as a permanent solution, but should be seen as an opportunity to
diversify foreign relations. He believes that, given the key features of
this idea, the Treasury Department will have a hard time imposing its
economic pressure on Iran.
How do you think Iran can benefit from Europe in serving its interests?
Certainly, this is a unique opportunity, and if the United States had
remained within the framework of this international agreement, it would have
become a golden and incredible opportunity. In fact, the American law
aversion and turning its back to all the international multilateral
protocols prevented the fruits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
be fully used by Iran.
In such a situation, Iran should use weights (although they do not count on
the US weight, but maybe in total would weigh the equivalent of that country
or even more) in order to not only reduce the US pressures (pressures on the
Iranian economy in an unprecedented way since 1982), but also in some
aspects turn these pressures into opportunities.
In this regard, and given the challenges that have emerged in US relations
with its two main trading partners (the EU and China), Iran seems to be able
to use the two, which if combined have an economy larger than the US. The
importance of the EU becomes known when its new proposal concerning special
payment system, based on which the money will not be directly given to
anyone and will be in credit line, can be beneficial to Iran because this
system will be in euro. Without doubt, in the next decade, when yuan becomes
a global currency, China can also become a major trading partner for Iran.
At the moment, Europe is also a center of modern technology transfer, even
in comparison with China and Japan. Countries such as Germany, Sweden,
Denmark, Italy, France and the United Kingdom each have a lot of ideas due
to their 250-year academic infrastructures and the strong interaction
between the academic system and the engineering industry, which is very
important for Iran, because Iran is now in the second stage of
industrialization (Iran has emerged from neo-industrialization stage and has
a developed industry), but it needs urgent updating of its industries.
How does the
specific approach the Europeans have created,
and how likely would it succeed?
In this context, the special payment system is actually the first step. It
was supposed to be a system in the first stage for Europe to buy energy from
Iran and transfer money to Iran, but in the second phase, it became a
long-standing institution for cooperation and coordination between the EU
and Iran. This has two positive points and two negative points. Since money
is not paid directly to state-owned companies (such as the National Iranian
Oil Company or the National Iranian Gas Company), and in fact there is no
bank to receive and transfer money as go-between, it would be difficult for
the US Treasury to insist on it and fulfill its threats. Because there will
be no real or legal entity for punishment. Even if the United States blocks
SWIFT (which will not be possible at least in the short term), there will
not be any effect on this system. Another positive point is that the system
will be under pressure from Tel Aviv and Riyadh lobbyists. Of course, Dubai
too must be added to the list as the UAE has recently publicly voiced
opposition to Iran in a London forum.
Of course, in the short term, two important points should be noted. The
first point is that Iran will not directly receive money that can be used
outside of the EU, but this cannot be very worrying because Europe is very
diverse, and Iran can meet many of its needs. That EU will fix it. The
second limitation is for this system to become permanent.
How will the
mechanism be safe
from new US
Looking at the new American economic threats, we see that the US Treasury
now says directly to companies like Siemens or Deutsche Bank not to interact
with Iran. Another treasury tactic is sending missions to ministries of
different countries asking them to put Iran under pressure. Of course, given
the arrangements made by the EU, backed strongly by the three top powers
(France, Germany, and the UK), US tactics are unlikely to bear fruit.
Indeed, the EUís administrative system has emphasized that the US Treasuryís
conduct and threats were firstly illegal, secondly, a violation of the
agreement signed by Washington itself, and thirdly, it is contrary to the
EUís security considerations to pressure Iran.
I think that for this reason, the voice of American threats will be louder
in the second half of November and December, but given the fact that it is
working weekly on the special payments system, not only will this system be
fully deployed, but also after the completion of the countriesí cadres in
this field and their inclusion, this system will have a great performance.
Has this been an integrated EU decision, or have
there been divisions within the EU regarding the strengthening of relations
Yes, there always have been differences of opinion on this issue in the
union. Fortunately, the EU key and first-rate countries all agree on
supporting Iran. In general, EU countries can be divided into three
categories. The first category is dedicated to three top European economies,
namely Germany, France and the UK. Among second-rank countries that are
important but do not have a key role mention can be made of Spain, Austria
and Italy. The third-rank countries are the Commonwealth of the Independent
States (former Soviet Union) and countries such as Greece and Portugal.
countries all emphasize on keeping the JCPOA. Even France, which
sometimes has close ties with Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv, has often been
supporting Iran. But countries such as Spain, Hungary and Poland are very
close to the US in political decision making.
However, there is such a division, but as long as these key states which
offset the deficiency payment of other countries are backing Iran, there is
no need to be concerned about the EU position. In the meantime, there is no
harm to upgrading Iranís relations with countries like Spain and Hungary in
the near future.
Given the apparent EU resolve
to seriously consider fostering relations with Iran and preserving the JCPOA
without the US, what tools can Iran use to consolidate its long-term
relationship with Europe?
In my opinion, the most positive and effective instrument will be the
formation of economic consortia in special projects. For example, Iran
railways reconstruction project, which I personally wished we could agree
with Germany and France, to triple the length and the capacity of the
railway in 10 years. Because the railway is economically important both for
transportation and for strategic purposes for Iran, and with its expansion,
the expense of transporting goods internally can be much more cost
Other projects include Iranís petrochemicals and turning it into three poles
of chemical products related to pharmaceuticals with high added value;
products related to the construction center; and products related to plastic
goods, which is currently being implemented in China. I believe China could
be a good model for Iran. Basically, these disparities are one of the
chronic diseases in our economy.
As for automotive industry, it can be completely transformed by establishing
a consortium with European countries and companies like Spainís SEAT and
Germanyís Volkswagen and Audi. This is what Japan did with the British and
then with the Americans, and today we see Japan automobile industry has
become one of the worldís most important poles. Indeed, given the experience
of various countries, I can say that this issue can be Iranís most important
means of deepening and consolidating long-term relations with the EU and
removing these relations from the underlying economic threat of the US and
any other country in the future.
How will relations
between Iran and
EU be affected if FATF gets final approval?
One of the legal obstacles in Iran-EU relations is that FATF is still not
standardized in the country. In my opinion, this was one of the
procrastinations whose importance was ignored under internal pressure. But
it seems that the importance of this issue has now been accepted inside the
country. I have always believed that this transparency is very good for the
Iranian economy. As there is transparency in the US Congress concerning US
spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
What is the role of countries like China and India in
international relations of Iran?
In my opinion, these two countries together can play a key role in Iranís
foreign trade relations in the long run. Of course, after Europeís supply
needs in the next 10 years, I suppose that the gravity of our economic and
regional security will be in relation to China and India, not in relation to
Europe and Russia.
diplomatic relations between
Iran and India
have always been
there is deep-seated
friendship between the
It seems that India not only can strengthen Iranís foothold in West Asia,
but can help Iran in technical, software and defense industries. As for
China, the parameters will be very different from India but China is
expected to become the worldís largest economy in the next five years, and
this shows the importance of a relationship with China more than before.