At the beginning of next month, European lawmakers and business leaders will join their Iranian counterparts in a virtual three-day conference to discuss the prospects for commercial ventures and trade links between the two.
This conference was originally due to be held in December but was postponed following Iran‘s execution of French resident and opposition journalist Ruhollah Zam. The rescheduled event will feature the same keynote speakers – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – and that is raising some serious questions given his alleged involvement in the 2018 terror plot in France, for which Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi has just been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Given that, the International Committee in Search of Justice wrote to Borrell and other EU officials calling for increased scrutiny of Iran’s “embassies, religious and cultural centres” and the downgrading of diplomatic relations unless Iran can improve its domestic human rights record and end its terrorism in Europe. They also called for Zarif to be held “personally” accountable for the terror plot because it was almost impossible that he was not aware of it. The prosecutors in the trial even said that Assadi was working on the orders of the Iranian regime.
The ISJ statement was signed by over 20 former government officials from a dozen European countries, but its contents were virtually echoed by dozens of members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in a letter to the Group Leader Rik Daems. They rejected the moderate credential ascribed to Zarif and showed why there must be a different Iran policy.
Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former vice-president of the European Parliament, wrote: “The organizers of the Europe-Iran Business Forum have clearly chosen exactly the opposite path, and if Josep Borrell participates in the Forum, he will be sending a message that Europe is open for business from the Iranian regime no matter what that regime’s business entails. He and the EU will be turning a blind eye to the politically motivated execution that caused the event to be cancelled in the first place, and they will disregard all the other malign activities that have been placed in the spotlight since then. Dishonourable behaviour is a shame, but if to this you add absolute lack of strategic vision, then you combine lack of principles with lack of intelligence, which do not seem the most appropriate qualities to lead EU vital foreign interests.”