The Geneva deal is still not implemented, but it has already gone a long way toward changing the way the west engages with Tehran. Bits and pieces are popping up in the media, but certainly not the broader picture.
The bottom line: European delegations are gravitating en masse to Iran, eager to deepen ties on a number of levels. In fact, traffic to Tehran has been so constant that a visit by a French parliamentary delegation was recently cancelled because it coincided with a week-long visit by a European Parliament delegation (perhaps it will reschedule together with a group of French investors or a planned British delegation).
Case in point: the eight-member European delegation agreed to visit Iran for the first time in six years without preconditions – despite continued executions under Rouhani and other abuses of human rights and freedoms – after cancelling previous visits due to the Iranian regime’s refusal to allow it access to political prisoners. This time, the delegation did meet with the past recipients of the EU Sakharov human rights award – dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh – but not the imprisoned Green Movement leaders.
Excited by what she saw, delegation head Tarja Cronberg said this week that the EU hopes to open an office in Tehran after the Geneva agreement is implemented. For what? Well, to herald a “new era based on … mutual ideas.” And so European representatives ease up on their expectations from Tehran and proceed with their visits without necessarily insisting on the principles they held in the past.
Since media reports have yet to clarify precisely why this attitude change is justified, we’re left alone to conclude that the EU just doesn’t care about principles anymore when it comes to Iran. Now anything goes under cover of the Geneva deal.