The Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) foreign policy, political orientation and its ability to achieve its objectives have been largely dependent on its security environment. The security environment is undeniably influenced by the international system, and hence security is an important element in the IRI’s foreign policy. This element has grown in influence since the disputed presidential election of 12 June 2009, which was interpreted by opposition groups as a palace coup. Iran’s current unstable socio-political situation has been heightened by the disputed re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, protests against which led to the brutal crackdown and suppression of dissenting voices. This, together with a faltering economy, has threatened the regime’s potential for survival. In order to establish foreign relations under such conditions, Iranian leadership has to fight to increase its legitimacy at home. Consequently, Iran’s evolution in the post-election turmoil led Tehran to focus on

its domestic politics rather than on any of its bilateral or multilateral relationships, including those with the European Union (EU) andMediterranean states. Due to the importance of beginning and the outcome of US negotiations with Iran on Tehran’s foreign policy towards the EU and Mediterranean states, IRI’s relationship with these countries is expected to be affected by both US-Iran relations as well as Iran’s domestic socio-political development. Because of the country’s economic woes and international posture its foreign

policy became central to the Iranian electoral debate for all candidates, including Ahmadinejad. Moreover, while all candidates linked the economy to IranianWestern relations and there were debates on how to begin negotiations to overcome economic issues, the tension in Iran’s foreign relations with theWest, and the EU in particular, regarding the post-election turmoil caused any improvement in their bilateral and/or multilateral relationship to be delayed even further and more complicated. This was due to:

a) Tehran’s efforts to link the domestic unrest to foreign powers. Tehran’s leadership accused the West of having provoked the mass protests against the government, and condemnedWestern support for the dissidents and for the public criticism of its mass trial of moderates charged with spying and trying to topple the regime after the disputed presidential vote. Tehran’s allegations extended even to the arrest and trial

of some of the employees in the British and French embassies in Tehran, along with some 4,000 Iranians who were arrested. In the months after the election about 100 of those arrested were put on trial. As Ahmadinejad announced his new cabinet on 30 September he condemned policies adopted by the EU and the US following the disputed election, ‘You have clearly interfered in Iran’s internal affairs and were naïve enough to think that you can damage the system but with God’s help you failed.’1 Moreover, there were calls in the Iranian parliament to revise relations with some European states, specifically Britain, France, Germany and Sweden, although, according to Hassan Qashqavi, the Speaker of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at that time Tehran did not have any plan to decrease its relations with the EU members.