Ahead of a resolution that the European Parliament passed late Thursday to demand the Islamic Revolution Guards Crops (IRGC) be designated as a “terrorist organization”, Iran had warned the European Union about the consequences of such a move. Iranian authorities’ stern warnings appeared to have prompted several EU officials to set in motion efforts to prevent tensions between Tehran and Brussels from spiraling out of control.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom noted in a telephone conversation with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian that the resolution was nonbinding. Billstrom, whose government holds the rotating presidency of the EU, also highlighted his country’s push to expand dialogue between the bloc and Iran.
Although German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger had called the EP’s move politically defensible, he emphasized there were political and legal obstacles for backlisting the IRGC.
Peter Stano, spokesman of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, explained that in order for the resolution to take effect, an EU member state must first implement it, so that the European Council is engaged to discuss the matter for a decision. In fact, the resolution is a recommendation to the European Council.
Earlier, Reuters quoted European sources as saying that the IRGC would not be designated during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.
A Wall Street Journal reporter, quoting a senior European official, also said such a move would not be a “good idea”, as blacklisting the IRGC would negatively affect issues in talks between Iran and the West, apparently the diplomatic effort to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
In response to Iran Daily on Saturday, Stano said: “The High Representative of the European Union (Borrell) continues his interaction with individual participants, including Iran and the U.S.”
Such positions from some European officials have raised hope and optimism that EU states would be more realistic about the EP’s resolution and its consequences. Unlike the EU, Iran may not differentiate between the resolution and the JCPOA revival talks.
Diako Hosseini, an Iranian expert on strategic issues, told ISNA: “The Europeans are not ready to take a further and practical step. They are certainly aware of the negative security and political consequences and understand that such an action would pose a major obstacle to other areas, including nuclear negotiations.”