Brussels promotes a first dialogue between Washington and Tehern, albeit indirect. Meanwhile, Von der Leyen and Michel meet with Erdogan to renew agreements
- Wide angle A Spanish bridge with Turkey to unite the shores of the Mediterranean
Vienna was the scene of the first -indirect- dialogue between Washington and Tehern since 2017, before US President Donald Trump erased himself from the atomic pact and reimposed a battery of sanctions that hardened the lives of Iraqis and provoked a hostile reaction from his government. The objective of yesterday’s meeting was to lay the political foundations for a technical dialogue that would allow the US to return to the agreement and the Iranian reversal of its measures in response.
It has taken weeks of mediation from multiple countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Foreign Action Service – also the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell – to get Iran and the United States to agree to dialogue. But the entrenchment between the two persists for almost three months after Joe Biden came to power: who should take the first step to revive him?
“The US has failed to fulfill its campaign promise,” Iran’s ambassador to the UN tweeted. Majid Takht Ravanchi. “This opportunity should not be wasted. If the US lifts all sanctions, it will cease all remedial measures.” The White House, on the other hand, maintains that it should be the Iranian government that reverses the uranium enrichment processes, and other initiatives in response to the sanctions, before they end.
Time is short, especially for Hasan Rohani’s centrist Administration, which signed the agreement and ends its term this June, when, in all probability, a more intransigent Executive emerges from the polls. Still, the US envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, told NPR that “if we can reach an agreement before the elections, fine. And if not, we will continue with whoever is in Tehern’s offices.”
These words, and the very complexity of the skein of sanctions woven by Trump and his hawks – not all of them concern nuclear issues, there are many of them that are for terrorism – augur a slow stretch until returning to the document signed by Obama in 2015. Resistances also exist in Iranian soil. Rohani’s room for maneuver narrows under pressure from their political rivals, who want to be the ones to impose their negotiating conditions later on.
“We are neither optimistic nor pessimistic […] But we trust that we are on the right track. And if America’s will, seriousness and honesty are proven, it could be a good sign of a better future, “the Iranian spokesman said, Ali Rabiei. Meanwhile, Foreign number two, Abbas Araqchi, and his team began their meetings in a hotel in Vienna. In another the Americans were waiting; European diplomats will pass messages between the two groups. Borrell’s right-hand man, Enrique Mora, defined the first contacts as “constructive.”
File rough edges in Turkey
A diplomatic contact took place in Ankara which, according to Turkish diplomatic sources, should serve to lay the foundations for a renewal of the customs agreements with the EU and the controversial 2016 refugee pact. The visit of Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel should also serve to smooth things over after months of tension between Turkey and its EU neighbors, especially Greece and Cyprus, over the energy dispute in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The Erdogan Executive cunningly played the card of being a diplomatic outsider while, inside, he accused a group of former admirals of “coup leaders” only one day before for questioning his projected Istanbul Canal. In recent weeks, the Prosecutor’s Office has requested the outlawing of the third parliamentary force, and the president has removed his country from the Istanbul Convention against sexist violence and has fired the head of the Central Bank, collapsing the lira by 11.6% .
In a press conference after the meeting, Von der Leyen said that “respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law”, which emerged during his talks with Erdogan, “must be an integral part of our relationship” with Turkey. However, applauding the Turkish “interest” in “reengaging with the EU in a constructive way”, he advocated “working on a new impulse to our relationship”, before the next European Council summit, strengthening economic ties and addressing the immigration issue. A position that raises doubts among some observers about whether the EU may be sending Ankara a message of tolerance towards its authoritarian tics.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism