On 19 October 2010 a two-session roundtable was held at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) with the participation of a delegation from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The SWP delegation, a guest of the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) – the Foreign Ministry’s think tank – engaged with Iranian experts in a wide-ranging discussion on Iran – EU relations as well as on regional issues of common interest.  

In the first session on regional issues, the war in Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process were discussed. On the Afghan situation, the Iranian side analyzed the current situation from Iran’s perspective. While describing the situation as deplorable and unacceptable, the Iranian experts emphasized the dangers arising from the on-going efforts with the explicit objective of integrating the Taliban into the political process. They also underlined the importance of active regional engagement, inclusive of the pivotal role of Iran, in all political efforts towards restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan. The German side presented the view from the EU perspective, including, in particular, the EU activities in assisting the Afghan government in its efforts towards consolidating its control over various parts of the country. While referring to the beginning of the withdrawal of the US combat forces from Afghanistan, the SWP delegation expressed concern about the evolving situation in Pakistan, given its nuclear status, especially with a view to the on-going tension with India over Kashmir, and the growing activities of the extremist groups in the country with their impact on the Afghan situation.

In the second part of the first session, the Middle East situation, particularly the recent US-led initiative on the peace process, was discussed. The Iranian side, while presenting the familiar Iranian perspective on the regional situation and the “peace process” – inclusive of criticizing the inherent inadequacies of the current process - emphasized the role and responsibility of the UN Security Council in assisting the Palestinians towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The German delegation, for its part, underlined the consensus view among the EU countries over the imperative of the security of the state of Israel and its right to existence. The delegation, however, also drew attention to the fact that the Europeans have not recognized Israel as an exclusively Jewish State and that their recognition of the Israeli boundaries is limited to its pre-1967 borders. The SWP delegation also addressed the EU's support for the current initiative towards peace process,  its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority since 2000,  as well as the main challenges facing the peace process.

In the second session on Iran–EU relations, the Iranian side addressed the foundations and roots of bilateral relations with the EU, existing problems, and the prospects for the future in light of the foreign policy approach and policies of both sides. The Iranian experts also dwelled on the areas of common interest between the two sides, emphasizing Iran’s interest in and eagerness to see the development of an EU comprehensive engagement strategy for dealing with Iran. To this end, from the Iranian point of view, 

Track–II diplomacy was considered to play an important part in improving the current state of relations. The German delegation, for its part, addressed the history of Iran-EU relations since the 1979 Revolution, particularly since the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War and its negative impact on the relations - lost opportunities for both sides. The SWP delegation also dealt with the differences between the approaches adopted by the U.S. and EU respectively in dealing with Iran. On a positive note, the German side welcomed Iran's participation in the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and expressed the hope that cooperation between Iran and the West on Afghanistan can pave the way for further improvement in bilateral relations on a larger scale.

In conclusion, Dr Volker Perthes, the SWP director, expressed satisfaction with the roundtable and also expressed the hope that the cooperation between SWP and CSR would further continue and expand in the future.