Strasbourg – 14 February 2019 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute congratulated the initiators of today’s European Parliament debate on the recent spate of Iranian terror plots on European soil and the EU’s response to these crimes.
The debate entitled Recent state-terror activities by Iran in the EU was added to the plenary agenda at the initiative of four Members of the European Parliament: Heinz K. Becker (EPP), Péter Niedermüller (S&D), Anders Vistisen (ECR), and Vice President Pavel Telička (ALDE). In total 60 lawmakers, almost twice as many as necessary, from all major political groups signed on. They pressed the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in a written question from December 2018 on the bloc’s Iran policy: Specifically, the MEPs asked why the EU hadn’t expelled the Iranian ambassador and suggested blacklisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the entire Hezbollah organization, which is fully funded and controlled by Tehran.
Last month, the EU Council decided to impose sanctions on a unit of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and two Iranian nationals linked to the plots.
“Thankfully, the EU finally responded to Tehran’s naked aggression against Europe, albeit rather cautiously,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute. “It is doubtful though whether this slap on the wrist will be enough to deter future Iranian terror plots. The Members of Parliament who triggered this long-overdue debate are absolutely right: It is high time to sanction the IRGC and Hezbollah. With some 1,000 Hezbollah supporters in Germany alone, they pose a tremendous threat to European security.”
Per the legislature’s rules of procedure, this so-called “Major Interpellation” became by default an agenda item in Strasbourg after High Representative Mogherini had let a deadline for a written response pass. EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, read out the High Representative’s statement, which didn’t address the lawmakers’ concerns about the IRGC or the blacklisting of the entire Hezbollah organization.
Jiří Pospíšil, a Czech Member of the European Parliament, said in response: “I am a bit more skeptical toward the regime in Iran than you. For me this is a totalitarian regime, which is trying to perpetrate deeds against EU citizens on EU territory. And this confirms that Iran isn’t a trustworthy partner.” Croatian lawmaker Jozo Radoš added that “the relations with [Iran] need to be reconsidered.”
“Last month’s round of EU sanctions against Iran were a promising signal,” Schwammenthal concluded. “We can only hope that today’s debate and the lawmakers’ probing written questions may give rise to a comprehensive review of the bloc’s relationship with the Islamic Republic.”