Iranian Army’s Land Force Academy graduation ceremony 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters)
BERLIN – The city of Vienna’s sponsorship of an Iranian embassy event at a local
educational center for adults on Saturday sparked a demonstration and a wave of
criticism from Austrian-Iranian dissidents and experts on relations between the
Alpine state – Austria – and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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In an e-mail
to The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Vienna-based expert on Austrian- Iranian
relations Dr. Diana Gregor wrote, “This event proves yet again that Austria is
not headed towards a change of heart at all – despite the latest IAEA report
proving Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its military dimensions and despite
all evidence from the UN highlighting the deteriorating human rights situation
Gregor, who has lectured in the United States and written
extensively about the relationship between Austria and Iran, continued that
“This event does not only send the wrong signal to the international community
but it also shows that Austria is sticking to its guns when it comes to the
“Instead of boycotting the regime, Austria prefers to
justify such an event by differentiating between politics and culture. This
behavior is cowardly, shameful and wrong in so many ways.”
Austrian journalist Karl Pfeifer, who is currently in Israel delivering a
lecture on radical rightist extremism in Hungary, told the Post
on Saturday that
“it is really mind-boggling.”
“Austrian Social Democrats who declare
themselves to be anti-fascists help the bloody Iranian regime to spread their
venomous propaganda. In Hungary the national-socialist Jobbik is doing the same.
Recently, in a disgusting deal, Austria voted for full membership of the PA and
the Social Democratic diplomat Eva Novotny got a position at UNESCO. It is give
The Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl, is a member of the
Austrian Social Democrats. Post e-mails on Saturday to the city of Vienna’s
spokesman, Oliver Stribl, were not immediately returned. A second spokesman from
the city of Vienna told the Post during a telephone conversation that he did not
have “time to research the matter” and was not informed about the event. E-mails
and telephone calls on Saturday to the Vienna education center, including its
program head, Eva Schröder, were not immediately answered.
a member of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan-Iran, in Vienna, said in a
statement, “Those who provide space for representatives of the Iranian embassy
and treat the embassy like an ordinary contractual partner, supply the regime
with legitimacy, which the regime has already long lost by the Iranian
Bahrami, a prominent Iranian-Kurdish dissident in Austria,
added that the cooperation between Vienna and Iran’s embassy means “support for
the policies of the regime” in Tehran.
Anti-Iranian regime activists
announced a protest on Saturday in front of the city-financed educational center
“The Austrian way – snuggling with the Mullahs for business,”
is how Samuel Laster, an Israeli-born journalist living in Vienna, termed the
close diplomatic cooperation between Austria and Iran.
reported and blogged on Austrian-Iranian relations over the years. He said a
“fundamental anti- Semitic consensus in Austrian society” permits the
“elimination fantasies of the Mullahs against Jews and Israel” to
Austria’s policies, say critics – mirror Germany and
Switzerland’s dovish efforts to stop Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons. The
three central European countries have longopposed crippling sanctions targeting
Iran’s financial and energy sectors.
Gregor, the Vienna-based Iran
sanctions expert, said “Europe needs to stand united with regard to Iran’s
nuclear weapons program and human rights abuses. However, Vienna seems to be one
of the weakest links within the European Union and enjoys allowing things to go
on as long as Austria has nothing to be afraid of. Austria, whether ruled by
socialists or conservatives, has a long tradition of close ties with
“Austria’s Erwin Lanc became the first Western foreign minister to
visit Iran in 1984, after the Islamic Revolution.
president Kurt Waldheim, whose presidency was clouded by revelations about his
Nazi past, visited Tehran in 1991 as the first head of a Western
Meanwhile, on Monday the EU foreign ministers are slated to
discuss Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
According to the EU agenda,
“During lunch, ministers are expected to have an exchange of views following the
publication of the new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency
concerning Iran’s nuclear program.”