Iranian Dissidenrs Criticise European Political Leaders
A conference organised by the Green Party in the European parliament to examine the results of the recent Iranian presidential elections, which saw the victory of the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ended in Brussels on Thursday. While some European Union representatives felt that the policy of the EU towards Iran would not be affected by the election of the new hardline president, Iranian dissidents at the conference expressed their disappointment and dismay with the EU's policy towards the Islamic republic. READ MOREThe Iranians give a stinging rebuke to the European Union and heap praise on the United States.
In the afternoon session of the conference, Patrick Laurent, the person in charge of the Persian Gulf in the European Commission, said that the foreign policy of the European Union vis-a-vis Iran, "will not suffer any changes with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
“We cannot judge the new President for the declarations that he made during his election campaign, where in days leading up to the vote, the scope of every candidate was to broaden the base of his supporters," said Laurent in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
"Contrary to the United States which has no Middle East strategy," added Laurent, "the European Union proceeds with a precise policy which is well known to the Iranian authorities and also to the new president."
The European Union trio of France, Germany and Britain is trying to use diplomacy to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear activities, in exchange for economic and trade incentives. Iran maintains its nuclear energy programme is solely for civilian purposes, but has come under increasing international pressure, prompted by suspicions, particularly in the US, that it is covertly developing nuclear weapons.
The dialogue in progress with Tehran, according to Laurent, is based on four pillars, of which the most important is the nuclear policies of Iran. Respect for human rights, the fight against international terrorism, and the role of Iran in the Middle East peace process, are the other three issues which divide the European Union and Iran.
The Iranian lawyer Youssef Molaii, the defender of prominent Iranian dissidents in prison for expressing their opinions, believes that in reality Europe is above all interested in the nuclear question.
“The understanding on the nuclear issue was reached in November 2004 in Paris, and has ended in a meeting between an Iranian delegation with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany, which denied Iran's right to posses nuclear technology," Youssef Molaii told AKI. “This agreement," he added, "would never be accepted by any government, and even less so by that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as long as it limits our independence and sovereignty."
"Critical dialogue intiated years ago between Iran and the European Union has not brought about any results so far, especially regarding the continued violations of human rights," said the Iranian lawyer.
“Europe does not have any strategy in the Middle East and this is the reason for which there is a stong belief in my country, not only among our representatives in government but also among the population, that for Iran to escape from the blind alley in which it finds itself, there have to be direct talks with the United States," said Molaii.
Many critics are "angry with the European Union," said Iranian lawyer Abdolkarim Lahiji, who is also the vice president of the International Federation of the League of Human Rights.
“Europe has not taken even one step to deal with the violation of human rights in Iran," said Lahiji in an interview with AKI. “We have proposed the presence of representatives from civil society in the meetings between the European Union and the Iranian authorities, but the Europeans won't accept this idea, so as not to irritate their Iranian counterparts," said Lahiji.
The voices of protest against the Iranian policies of the European Union, were raised also in the room where another one hundred representatives of the Iranian political and non-governmental organisations were also present. For Nushabeh Amiri, an Iranian reformist journalist, "the European Union, interacts, not only in Iran but in all of the Middle East, just with the governments, while the United States at least has the decency to engage with the civil society."
Among the critics of the EU policy towards Iran was also Farah Karimi, a Dutch member of parliament of Iranian origin. “Europe thinks only of its immediate economic interests, without looking to the future," said Farah Karimi, who was elected with the Green Party.
“In light of the results in the last Iranian election, which certainly was not what we had expected," said the Italian Green Party MP, Monica Frassoni, "the European Union must continue to maintain its role as a watchdog, not just of Iran's external relations, but also at the internal level, monitoring the human rights situation."