Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) is visiting Iran with a delegation of the European Parliament from 12 until 18 December. After the official delegation, she will remain in Iran for three more days, following her own programme. The last time a delegation visited Iran was in 2008. Repeated attempts to travel to the country have failed because of tensions between Iran and the EU. Schaake: “The visit of the delegation is an important step which shows that the Iranian regime is at least prepared to talk. We will not shy away from addressing the most difficult issues. The timing is crucial because President Rohani seems to be choosing a new course, steering away from the (self-) isolation of Iran. We must seize this momentum to call for real action to support the words and promises that we have heard so far. Not only with regard to the nuclear programme, but especially in order to put human rights higher on the agenda.” To address the importance of the human rights of the Iranian people, Schaake nominated human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh for the Sakharov prize last year. When she won the prize, Sotoudeh was in prison, but she has recently been released. Delegation programme The delegation will speak with Iranian politicians and policy makers, but also with Iranian civil society and human rights organisations. Meetings with parliamentarians, President Rohani and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have been planned. Amongst other things, the role of Iran in the Middle East, the war in Syria, extremism, political prisoners and drugs trade from Afghanistan will be discussed. On her own initiative, Schaake is also looking to visit an Iranian University, hoping to speak with students.