Thursday

24th May 2018

MEPs cancel Iran trip over Sakharov meeting

  • To go or not to go? MEP's trips to Iran was cancelled at the last minute in 2011 and 2010 (Photo: Amin Tabrizi)

Two Iranian dissidents have won the EU's freedom prize, but MEPs who had hoped to meet them in Iran have called off their trip.

The parliament on Friday (26 October) said that Jafar Panahi (a film maker) and Nasrin Sotoudeh (a human rights lawyer) got the prize as "a message of solidarity and recognition to a woman and a man who have not been bowed by fear and intimidation and who have decided to put the fate of their country before their own."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Sotoudeh, a mother of two, is currently on hunger strike in prison.

The €50,000 Sakharov Prize is to be handed over at a ceremony in Strasbourg in December.

The parliament decision coincided with a previously-scheduled trip to Iran by a group of five left-leaning MEPs led by Finnish Green Tarja Cronberg.

The delegation had hoped to meet the Sakharov laureates to hand-deliver invitation letters from EU parliament chief Martin Schulz to the prize-giving ceremony.

But Cronberg cancelled the trip on Saturday morning after the Iranian ambassador to the EU told her that he could not guarantee "at such short notice" that she would be able to do it.

"I deeply regret that permission to meet the Sakharov laureates was withheld. The European Parliament is nevertheless determined to continue its support for and involvement with the Iranian civil society," Schulz said in a statement.

The cancellation is the third time in a row that the trip has been called off at the last minute.

Last year, Iran declined to give visas.

In 2010, EU parliament chiefs blocked it after a kindergarten teacher was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

The visit to Iran had in any case been criticised by centre-right MEPs, US politicians and Jewish lobby groups.

Daniel Schwammenthal, the head of the Brussels office of the American Jewish Committee, had told this website that even if MEPs ask tough questions on human rights in closed-doors meetings, they will end up being shown on TV smiling and shaking hands in a "propaganda victory" for the regime.

He had added that it would be "really disheartening" for dissidents such as the Sotoudeh and Panahi to watch the spectacle.

For her part, Cronberg had noted that she had cut meetings from the agenda with people on the EU's Iran sanctions list, such as Iranian chief justice Sadegh Larijani, even though she personally believes the EU sanctions do not work.

She admitted it would have been hard to control who actually walks into the meeting room once she is on the ground in Iran, however.

She had added the main purpose of the trip would have been to call for the abolition of the death penalty and that she would have steered clear of the nuclear issue because the EU parliament has no mandate on it.

"There will probably be efforts to this effect [propaganda]. We are aware of this and we will be very clear about the message that we bring," she had said.

This story was updated on Saturday (27 October)

Question marks over EU sanctions on Iran

Greece is temporarily blocking an EU gas embargo on Iran. But the big question is: are EU sanctions hurting or helping Iranian leader Ali Khamenei?

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  2. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  3. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  4. UK households hit with Brexit income loss
  5. Report: EU faces 10% cut in steel exports to US
  6. Australia wants more access to EU agricultural market
  7. CV of Italian PM candidate under scrutiny
  8. Puigdemont Spain extradition rejected by German court

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. GDPR does not (yet) give right to global oblivion
  2. Privacy Shield less relevant given GDPR, says data chief
  3. Unknown academic to lead Italy into EU clash
  4. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  5. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  6. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  7. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  8. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption