The EU is missing realism in its relations with Iran

On Tuesday 9th July ECR MEP’s Bert Jan Ruissen and Anna Fotyga hosted a conference on ‘Iran, Europe and the United States’ at the European Parliament in Brussels where Dr. Dan Schueftan from the University of Haifa was the main guest speaker.

Dr Schueftan reflected on the current tensions between the US, Europe and Iran but extended his scope to the Arab region and the position of Israel. He expressed his worries about the current ‘very violent and structurally unstable’ situation in most of the Arab world.

He shared his deep concern at the current situation in Iran with its ‘barbaric regime’ trying to influence the larger region via proxy wars, military expansion and economic pressure. He warned: “if Iran takes the power, not only the Middle East will be in trouble, but the whole world”. In this light, he welcomed the tough stance of the US towards Iran: “the US president cannot afford to be nice. We have to face the reality despite we don’t like it. The Middle East is in a stage of hopelessness. Looking not only from position of Jerusalem, the environment is really depressing” said Schueftan as he described the situation in the region.

At the same time he strongly criticized the role of the EU as it is “missing realism”. On the recent EU action to circumvent the US sanction regime on Iran via the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges he is clear:

“Europe pretends they play a role in Iran, but they do not. Europe makes promises but cannot keep them. They’ll lose respect”. In his view Europe should refrain from its peace and democracy policy in the Middle East and rather focus on assisting the countries in their needs on areas like agriculture, environment and infrastructure. “The rest of the world is not Europe. And does not want to become as we are. Democracy is a sexy thing, but not in today’s Middle East. Different cultures have different priorities. That’s the reality. Cultures matter and differ from each other. I, as an Israeli, feel part of the Western civilization, in Europe I feel like home, but it’s not the case of the whole region” - said Schueftan.

Schueftan concluded by praising the Iranian people for their courage to stand up against the radical policy of the regime. With this in mind he ended with a positive note by arguing that Israel and Iran (after the regime) are the two countries in the Middle East that are the most promising: “ In the long run I draw a silver lining around a black cloud”

Dr. Dan Schueftan is the Head of the International Graduate Program in National Security at that university of Haifa and was the Director of the National Security Studies Center at the University until last year.

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