Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) calls on EU High Representative Catherine Ashton to open a delegation of the European Union in Iran. “With President Rouhani in office, Iran appears to seek a reconnection with the international community. Eventually only real steps and actions count, but we have to be open for dialogue and at the same time monitor the situation. That is much easier with EU diplomats on the ground”, Schaake says. Since this summer the Iranian president and foreign minister have launched a successful diplomatic offensive, also on Twitter: “digital diplomacy proved to be the basis of the telephone call between Rouhani and Obama, 34 years after the last contact on this level”.
Heavy international sanctions because of concerns over Iran’s nuclear program have caused unprecedented economic problems in the country. On the 15th and 16th of October new negotiations will take place on the program. “The EU has to be willing to reduce sanctions if Iran can prove it is not building nuclear weapons, allows inspections and halts the enrichment of uranium to levels that are used for military usage. I have good hopes that Rouhani is willing to make a deal and has the mandate of the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Khamenei, to do so.” Schaake is against international military action in Iran and calls for a diplomatic solution under EU leadership.
Schaake has successfully advocated for EU human rights sanctions. Members of the Revolutionary Guard, corrupted judges and prison guards have been subjected to sanctions, they face travel restrictions and their assets are frozen. Schaake: “Our policy should be guided towards enabling as much freedom and rights for the Iranian population as possible. An EU-Ambassador in Tehran is much better positioned to address human rights violations and push for improvements on behalf of all 28 EU member states. Unfortunately executions, torture and rape in prisons are a daily reality in Iran.”