EghtesadOnline: Despite differences between Iran and the European Union on some issues, including the human rights, the bloc is increasingly interested to enhance ties with the Islamic Republic to safeguard economic interests and ease security concerns, says an Iranian expert in European affairs.
'Recent years have seen significant regional developments making Iran more important than ever in the EU's eyes,' Azizollah Hatamzadeh told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in a recent interview.
'While economy remains to be on the agenda, the European Union is considering enhancing its ties with Iran to bolster the bloc's security,' Hatamzadeh said.
'Europe, especially following the emergence of Daesh (ISIS) terrorists and the proliferation of extremism in the region, more than ever feels insecure and it needs to improve and develop relations with Tehran,' he added.
The international relations Ph.D. student in Tehran University also referred to the second round of Iran-EU high level talks which took place in Brussels last week as well as the resolution ratified by the EU Parliament to normalize ties with Iran, calling them constructive.
The strategic document ratified in the EU Parliament opened a new chapter in Tehran-Brussels relations, Hatamzadeh said.
'Europe's tendency to develop ties with the Islamic Republic is not anything new. Following the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, countries in Europe were among Iran's main trade partners and after Iran's nuclear program was brought into the global spotlight, Europe tried to settle the issue through negotiations,' he said.
But with the United States opposing Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, the European countries also joined the US to put Iran under sanctions to persuade Tehran abandon its nuclear program, he said.
Hatamzadeh said that now following the nuclear deal between Tehran and P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the main hurdle on the way for Iran and the EU to promote ties has been removed.
'Now even Washington could not stop Europe to enhance its relations with the Islamic Republic,' he added.
'As a result, bilateral ties between the two sides reached the lowest level in the past few decades,' he said.
Hatamzadeh said that the issue of human rights has tended to be a main hurdle in further promotion of ties between Iran and the EU.
'But following the recent approach adopted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to express Tehran's readiness to negotiate on the issue and the initiative by the country's head of the Judiciary, talks on the human rights issue are expected to be resumed,' he said.
The EU affairs expert said that Iran and Europe have no fundamental difference and there are high potentials for them to develop their cooperation in an array of areas, including energy, industry agriculture, tourism, fighting narcotics and terrorism.
'Promoting bilateral cooperation is going to benefit both sides, and enhancement of Iran-EU ties is going to result in improving the image of the Islamic Republic which has been tarnished by the West especially over the last decade,' Hatamzadeh said.
'With the European Union, as one of the poles of the global economy, showing eagerness to normalize ties with Iran, other world countries are also going to follow suit,' he said.
'This is going to put an end to the Iranophobia promoted by the West during the last decade.'