BERLIN – Israeli officials have sharply criticized five Bundestag deputies for
meeting in Teheran this week with Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s
parliament, who has defended his government’s denial of the
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“It is especially regretful that German legislators met with
Holocaust deniers,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post.
defended Iran’s denial of the Holocaust at the Munich security conference in
2009, saying his country has “different perspectives on the Holocaust” and no
laws barring such denial.
The German legislators reportedly met on Monday
with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who delivered a speech at the 2006
international Holocaust denial conference held in Teheran.
officials said the German “visit is counterproductive and regretful, and clearly
sends the wrong message to the Iranian regime. It is quite surprising that
German legislators choose to hold an official visit to Iran, at the same time
when the German government, together with other leaders of the democratic world,
work hard to tighten the sanctions on Iran in order to prevent it from
threatening the world with nuclear capabilities.”
According to Left Party
deputy Lukrezia Jochimsen, a member of the German delegation, the trip also
entails meetings with Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the head of Iran’s parliamentary
cultural committee and Iran’s state-controlled Press TV.
spoke in support of Iran’s fatwa calling for the murder of British novelist
Salman Rushdie because he “defamed Islam.” According to a BBC documentary
broadcast in July, Useful Idiots, Press TV played a significant role in
violating human rights during the protests against the reportedly rigged Iranian
presidential election in 2009.
The Bundestag issued a statement noting
that the legislators’ meeting with their Iranian counterparts is part of a
cultural dialogue and exchange program between the two legislatures.
asked about Israel’s criticism of the trip, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign
Ministry told the Post
by e-mail on Tuesday that “the Bundestag decides in its
own jurisdiction and responsibility over trips and its committees. The Foreign
Ministry supports the members of the Bundestag with respect to the realization
of the trips. As a basic principle, the German government does not evaluate
Asked if the trip contradicts the international efforts to
isolate Iran because of its nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
wrote, “The position of the German government on the Iranian nuclear dossier
Peter Gauweiler, chairman of the Bundestag’s cultural
and education committee, arrived in Iran last week with committee members from a
cross section of German parties. Jochimsen from the Left Party, Claudia Roth
from the Green Party, the Social Democrat’s Günter Gloser, and Monika Grütters,
who, like Gauweiler, is a member of the conservative Christian party (CDU/CSU),
are on a six-day visit.
When asked about Gauweiler’s decision to hold
meetings with Iranian officials who have denied the Holocaust, Christoph Tiné, a
spokesman for Gauweiler, told the Post by e-mail that he could not reach
Gauweiler in Iran for a comment. Sascha Götz, a spokesman for Gloser, told the
Post that the visit revolves around whether “dialogue is a means or not” with
Iran. Götz declined to answer questions about the purpose of meeting Iranians
who denied the Holocaust.
Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and an expert on EUIranian
relations, told the Post that “The decision by the German Federal parliament to
send a delegation to Iran sends the wrong signal and runs contrary to the spirit
of current European policy vis-à-vis Iran.
The European Parliament has
just canceled a visit to Iran because of the regime’s refusal to comply with
basic conditions – that the stoning sentence [against Sakineh Mohamamadi
Ashtiani] be rescinded and that delegates be able to meet with whomever they
Ottolenghi added, “Clearly, their intention was to devote at
least part of the visit to speaking to dissidents, Green Movement leaders and
the democratic opposition.
It is remarkably disappointing to see a German
delegation travel to Iran and meet the stalwarts of the regime and the people
who share much responsibility for the internal repression at a time when there
are ample signs that support for the regime is fast eroding. This trip simply
should not happen.”
The Bundestag deputies’ trip prompted criticism from
the German chapter of the Stop the Bomb NGO, in a statement headlined, “The
federal committee legitimizes the executioners of the Iranian
The group’s spokesman Michael Spaney said, “This
subservience of German legislators to the murderers and anti-Semites of the
Iranian regime is another slap in the face of the democratic Iranian opposition
and civilized humanity.”
Stop the Bomb singled out the German Green Party
for its claim to support the Iranian opposition as “hypocritical.”
Mahdjoubi, a spokesman for Roth, the Green Party deputy in Iran, told the Post
in a telephone interview that “one cannot take Stop the Bomb seriously,” because
they “only want to isolate Iran.”
Nasrin Amirsedghi, an intellectual who
fled the Islamic Republic and has written extensively about German-Iranian
relations, told the Post that the visit is helping “to maintain a barbaric
system” and is an “appeasement trip.” It will not advance human rights, nor aid
in the struggle against the repression of women in Iran, she said.