Italian deputy rebukes fellow deputies for Iran meeting
Italy is Iran’s largest EU trade partner; Italian MPs met with Iranian counterparts.
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
BERLIN – Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, sharply criticized last week her fellow legislators serving on the committee for meeting with a group of Iranian members of parliament.Speaking during a parliamentary debate last Wednesday, Nirenstein said “I announce that, in my capacity as Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will not participate in tomorrow’s meeting of my committee with a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians, headed by the President of the Iranian Foreign Affairs Committee.”She continued that, “Given the recent demonstrations in Iranian cities, with the Iranian people once again proving their profound enmity towards a government that violates all their human rights; given the violence perpetrated by the Iranian security forces, and given the disconcerting images, in all today’s newspapers, of the Iranian parliament demanding the hanging of the opposition leaders, I feel that a dialogue with Iran’s official representatives is completely pointless.“On the contrary, I think it’s extremely useful to express and give concrete solidarity meeting its oppositions. Indeed, until now, international meetings with Iran’s representatives on human rights or nuclear facilities, have served no useful purpose. They have only helped to give more time and legitimacy to the regime of the ayatollahs. Iran has to date proven its extreme determination to pursue its aggressive, imperialist and anti-Semitic course, as proven by [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s latest declarations de facto inciting to genocide.The opposition, on the other hand, notwithstanding the fierce repression it faces, still continues to express a desire for freedom and peace which deserves all our support.”Italy was last year the largest EU trade partner of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Critics charge Italy with undercutting EU sanctions aimed at isolating Iran and courting Iranian politicians at a time when Tehran is ignoring UN, EU and American sanctions to end its nuclear program.According to Italian investigative journalist, Giulio Meotti, who writes for the Italian daily Il Foglio and is the author of A New Shoah (Encounter, 2010), “during a recent conference in Rome titled ‘Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Italy: Shared Responsibilities and Differences in an Evolving World,’ Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Stefania Craxi declared that ‘Iran has the right to possess and use nuclear energy.’”AdvertisementMeotti also revealed that “former prime minister Romano Prodi recently paid a personal visit to the Ayatollahs where he participated in a press conference with Iranian officials, including Alaeddin Boroujderdi, the president of Iran’s committee on national security who a few days before Prodi’s visit had threatened to “destroy Israel.’”According to the Italian Institute for For Foreign Trade, Italy purchased Euro 3.744 billion worth of Iranian goods in the first three quarters of 2010, an increase of 167 percent from the Euro 1.401 billion it imported in the parallel period in 2009. Italy’s import of Iranian oil mushroomed by 90% last year, according to Italy’s petroleum association, Unione Petrolifera. Italy’s energy giant Eni told Reuters last December that it will continue to buy Iranian crude for another three years. Experts believe that increased pressure to restrict the purchase of Iranian crude oil could play a decisive role in changing Iran’s behavior.
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