BERLIN – A group of center-left European Union parliament deputies – spearheaded
by Finland’s Green Party member Tarja Cronberg – rejected on Monday an appeal
from two US Democratic senators calling on the EU politicians to cancel their
trip to Iran, slated for Saturday.
A spokeswoman for the EU parliament,
told The Jerusalem Post on Monday during a telephone interview that the EU
politicians were leaning toward traveling to Tehran.
Nevertheless, it is
still “unclear” if the visit will move forward, she said, noting that a decision
will be made on Monday evening or Tuesday. The spokeswoman wrote to the Post on
Tuesday, “Unfortunately, the delegation didn’t make the final decision” about
the trip to Iran. She added “But it still seems likely that they are going. At
the moment, the planned delegation has five members of the European
The five MEPs are slated to meet on Thursday at 2
p.m. to make the final decision on the trip, she said.
to the spokeswoman, the left-wing deputies are working to create “balance” and
convince their conservative members to take part in the trip.
delegation to Iran for a seven-day visit sends the wrong message at this
particularly sensitive time,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Sen. Ben
Cardin (D-Maryland) wrote in a letter sent on Wednesday to the EU.
Stevenson, a conservative Scottish deputy who heads the parliament’s Friends of
a Free Iran caucus, said in a Twitter message, “Scandalous European parliament
will send a large ‘friendship’ delegation to Iran, end October, bolstering this
evil regime. CANCEL.”
A total of 15 European Union parliamentarians from
six countries plan to visit Tehran on October 27 for a six-day
Three members of the European People’s Party group in the EU
parliament on Monday issued a statement blasting the trip.
Ioannis Kasoulides MEP, who is the EPP Group Vice-Chairman responsible for
Foreign Affairs, said: “A visit to Iran at this particular time would send the
wrong message and could prove to be damaging.”
The EPP Group supports the
latest Foreign Affairs Council decisions to increase sanctions against the
banking, shipping and industrial sectors of Iran, aimed at affecting Iran’s
nuclear program and revenues for funding it.”
Elmar Brok MEP, Chairman of
the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, said, “We ask for the
postponement of the meeting until the High Representative, Catherine Ashton,
gives us the green light to go on with it, given the ongoing negotiations she is
involved with in Iran. The European Parliament should not damage the EU position
and become an instrument of Iranian propaganda.”
The third member of the
EPP who joined the statement condemning the trip was José Ignacio
“Let me stress that the delegation’s agenda is fully in line
with the EU’s twintrack approach to Iran of both sanctions and dialogue and has
been established in close cooperation with the European External Action Service
(EEAS),” the EU spokeswoman told the Post.
“This twin-track approach was
repeated in the council’s conclusions on October 15, which said, ‘The council
reaffirms the longstanding commitment of the European Union to work for a
diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in accordance with the dual
track approach,’” she said.
Daniel Schwammenthal, the director of AJC’s
Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, told the Post on Monday that “for European
lawmakers to make an official visit to Iran is shockingly absurd when the 27-
member European Union has unanimously imposed ever-tightening sanctions on Iran
for its reckless behavior that endangers global security.”
added that the EU’s latest sanctions package, which was passed last week, “is a
dramatic reminder that relations with Iran cannot be business as usual. The
European parliament delegation is, in effect, undermining the EU’s
He listed the delegation’s planned visits with blacklisted
Iranian politicians, including Iranian Chief Justice Sadegh Larijani, “who was
sanctioned by the EU in March for his role in human rights violations,” he
“European officials reaching out to the regime will be a blow to
the morale of dissidents suffering in Iranian prisons and throughout the
country,” said Schwammenthal.
The EU politicians are slated to meet
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, who is
wanted by an Argentinian court for his role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA
Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
self-respecting Western official should offer any legitimacy to the Iranian
regime, which defiantly ignores the will of the international community,” said
“How can they even think of going to Tehran at this time?”
Writing on The Huffington Post United Kingdom website, Abbas
Rezai, an Iranian dissident who fled the Islamic Republic regime after being
imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison in the 1980s, wrote, “Critics often maintain,
whatever good intentions this people may have, such trips would give credit to
Rezai quoted Sohrab Saidi, an Iranian exile in Cologne,
who commented, “Name one objective that has been achieved by all these trips and
negotiations with Iran.
Has there been any progress on human rights? Have
they halted their nuclear weapons program or backed down from exporting
terrorism to the region?” Rezai added, “Several people were hanged in public
during the last trip by a European parliamentary delegation to Iran in
2007. The trip was hailed by the Iranian media.”