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Middle East crisis: EU's delicate balancing act between Washington and Tehran

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By Darren McCaffrey
Middle East crisis: EU's delicate balancing act between Washington and Tehran
Copyright  Euronews

For the past week, Iranian missiles have reigned done on US bases. It comes in response to the assassination of Iran’s top general by the Pentagon.

But for the EU - the past week has seen it struggle to find a voice and indeed anyone to listen to what it has to say.

Today, the new EU Council President Charles Michel on a visit to Croatia - dismissed those claims, insisting he would be play a more important role, and defending the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).

"The JCPOA is certainly not a perfect treaty. It is not a perfect agreement. But it is an agreement negotiated during more than 10 years. It means that it is a channel of communication. And that is why I had the occasion to speak, to have a long discussion with President Rohani to see how is it possible for the European Union to play a stronger role in the region."

The EU has in recent years found itself torn by the two sides on the issue of Iran between a US President determined to rip up the nuclear agreement they signed and the Iranian regime determined in response to escalate tensions in the region. But by being stuck in that middle ground - it also appears to have rendered the EU’s power and influence almost non existent.

This has not been helped by divisions with Hungary’s Victor Orban suggesting should change its position to back Trump:

"I would like to see that the European position which is not clear about the issue of Iran would orientate towards the Israeli-American position. On Friday we would like to reach that the distance between the European position and the Anglo-Saxons, or lets say the Israeli-American position would decrease. I think we should go in this direction."

But politicians here in Croatia disagreed.

"We should have our own position when it comes to Iran and speak with one voice, the European Union. And if we speak with one voice and we accept together the position of the US, fine. But lets first settle what our position is," Miro Kovač, Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Croatian Parliament told our reporter.

Disagreements and discussions on what beyond words the EU should do will now play out.

But if conflict escalates, it’s likely the Union will have to veer away from that middle ground and start taking sides.