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European think-tank : Iran a very important economic and political partner of EU

A leading European think-tank has underlined the important role and position of the Islamic Republic for the European Union, and also acknowledged the great influence of Islam in shaping European civilization, IRNA reported from Brussels.

``Iran is a very important country for the EU. As the EU develops its own independent foreign and security policy, its relations with Iran will become more important,`` said John Palmer, political director of the Brussels-based European Policy Center, in an interview with IRNA.

``This is a country of immense culture, potentially a very important economic and political partner of the EU,``said Palmer, a widely-respected analyst and former political editor for many years for the British paper The Guardian in Brussels.

He said the full democratization of Iran would be very important not only politically but in strengthening Iran`s economic international impact.

``We know that the reform process is yet incomplete. We think that the interest of all Iranians lie in completing that process.`` He said that Iran has a very considerable influence in the region and the Islamic world particularly in the world of Shiite Islam. The European Policy Center, he noted, is an independent think-tank founded seven years ago, operating at the level of the EU and focused on how EU policy be evolved and improved.

The active cooperation of Iran is very important to resolve the problems in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and terrorism, he said. Palmer pointed out the difference in EU-US approach towards the Islamic Republic.

The EU`s policy has been one of dialogue and engagement with Iran, he said, adding that ``We did not agree with the `axis of evil`` characterization by the Bush administration.``

He, however, pointed to Europe`s concern about Iran`s nuclear program.

On the situation in the Middle East, Palmer said the Europeans have been very critical of Israeli policy in many areas. ``The Europeans have been critical of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, they have criticized the Israeli policy of political assassinations, they have criticized the Israeli attempt to create an apartheid wall.``

The Europeans are also pressing the Americans to put much more pressure on Israel.

``In my view that pressure must include Israel`s nuclear arsenals. Israel`s nuclear arsenal must come within the international control process,`` he said.

The European Policy Center, Palmer said, is working on a comprehensive dialogue between Europe and the Islamic world. ``We owe a great debt to the Islamic world. Our civilisation, the renaissance, the scientific revolution, the re-learning of the Classics came to Europe from Islamic world.``

``Europe is increasingly part of the Islamic world, not separate,`` Palmer told IRNA.

In the next ten years there are Muslim-majority countries like Albania and Bosnia that will become members of the EU, he explained.

... Payvand News - 9/14/03 ... --

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