October 18, 2012 – Brussels – AJC is calling on members of the European Parliament to cancel their planned visit to Iran this month.
“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 behaviour that endangers global security,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of AJC’s Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. “The EU’s latest sanctions package, adopted on Monday, is a dramatic reminder that relations with Iran cannot be business as usual,” Schwammenthal added. “The European Parliament delegation is, in effect, undermining the EU’s efforts.”
The reported 15 European Parliamentarians from six countries are slated to arrive in Tehran on October 27 for a six-day visit. European lawmakers last visited Iran in 2007. The Europeans plan to discuss with Iranian leaders several issues, including human rights and drug trafficking. In July, Iran hosted an international conference on drug trafficking at which Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi delivered a vile anti-Semitic speech.
In August, Iran hosted the Non-Aligned Movement summit, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, despite vociferous objections, participated. “Even the UN Secretary General could not persuade Iran to change its positions on its fast-moving nuclear program, support for the Assad regime in Syria, calls for Israel’s annihilation, and violations of human rights. Just as his visit was counterproductive, so will be the European delegation’s overture,” said Schwammenthal.
Among the most disturbing meetings on the draft schedule for the visiting Europeans is a session with Iranian Chief Justice Sadegh Larijani, who was sanctioned by the EU in March for his role in human rights violations. “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. Also on the draft schedule is Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president of Iran. An Argentinian judge issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani, in 2006, for his role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
“No self-respecting Western officials should offer any legitimacy to the Iranian regime which defiantly ignores the will of the international community,” said Schwammenthal. “How can they even think of going to Tehran at this time?”