It looks as though Iran is to become the center of another international intrigue very soon, as the interests of Russia, European Union, and the USA collide with each other around the state. Despite Washington’s rhetoric, none of the parties mentioned is not interested in keeping relations with Iran strained.
As of now, Russian-Iranian relations cannot be characterized as strained. The legal status of the Caspian Sea is the only problem that really mars relations between Moscow and Tehran. Although this problem is large enough, it cannot hamper development of bipartite relations between the two countries.
Iran is a rather favorable economic (and political) partner not only for Russia but for the European Union and the USA as well. First of all, this is because Iran has a rich supply of oil. Second, it is necessary to take Iran’s position into consideration to settle the Mideast problem. Therefore, nolens volens, it is impossible to set Teheran’s opinion aside. Western politicians seem to have understood the importance of the problem. At least, it was decided at the session of the EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg to start talks on the extension of commercial and political relations with Iran. The ministers hope that closer cooperation with Iran will help limit nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons proliferation and help to stop terrorism. Talks between EU Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are scheduled for Tuesday in Brussels. Europeans are ready to support Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. The ministers have already approved of an inquiry sent to the European Commission on the quick ratification of forthcoming treaties with Iran.
Practically, since the very moment of Khattami’s coming to power, Europe placed great hopes on the Iranian president. It is true that when the USA launched its war on terrorism, EU-Iran relations have grew bit cold. As we see now, this did not last long.
The USA, together with Israel, gave a negative estimate of the ministers’ statement, which is not is not surprising at all, because the EU considers the Mideast problem from a different angle than the USA and Israel (who claim that Iran is a key sponsor of terrorism). However, this situation is more complicated than it may seem at first sight.
Some experts think that Washington will probably use the EU as a mediator for improving relations with Iran, but, at the same time, it wants to retain the anti-Iran rhetoric to which it has stuck before. This is quite possible because of the two mentioned above reasons: oil and Mideast peace process
If USA-Iran lations remain rather cool, American companies will hardly participate in the development of Iran’s rich oil fields. In this case, Russian companies will take over due to the cooperation between the two countries. Let us hope Russia will use this to its maximum advantage.
In addition, Iran’s participation is important for the settlement of the Jewish-Palestinian question. The White House performs the role of the key mediator and will have to take great efforts to force the Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks. The support of Iran would make the procedure easier.
Finally, it would be important to improve relations with Iran because of Iraq. Both countries were hostile to each other some time ago; however, nowadays, they are becoming somewhat closer. The coming together is based on an anti-American grounds. Washington is most likely displeased with this process.
Russia should do its best to develop friendly relations with Iran now, at least for economic reasons. If European (and American) companies start the implementation of their projects in Iran, it will create strong competition for Russian companies. Therefore, there is still some time left to increase relations with Iran, otherwise it may be too late soon. Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/06/18/42813.html