Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

EU states walk out during Ahmadinejad speech

European diplomats on Monday (20 April) walked out of the UN's anti-racism conference in Geneva after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Israeli government is "racist."

The move comes after initial divisions among EU states on boycotting the event for fear that Mr Ahmadinejad might use it as a platform to attack Israel.

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  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Israel is a "racist state" (Photo: Wikipedia)

Most of the 27 member states decided to send diplomats to the five-day event in Geneva, entitled the "Durban Review Conference" and aimed at tackling racism around the globe.

Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Italy decided to boycott the event from the start, alongside Israel, US, Canada and Australia.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who was the only head of state to attend, said Jewish migrants from Europe and the United States had been sent to the Middle East after World War II "in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine."

"In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine," he added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the speech "hateful," while UK foreign minister David Miliband termed it "offensive, inflammatory and utterly unacceptable."

All EU delegates walked out within minutes after Mr Ahmadinejad started talking, but most of them returned for the rest of the conference.

"Participating member states have no outstanding difficulty of substance with the draft outcome document and are ready to give their consent to it during the adoption on Friday," the EU said in a statement.

Mr Miliband said British representatives would remain so as to not "leave the stage only to those, like President Ahmadinejad, who would take global efforts against racism backwards."

The Czech EU presidency left the conference altogether, however.

"In response to the speech by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, in which he described Israel as a country with a racist government, the Czech Republic withdraws definitively from the Durban Review Conference," it said in a statement.

The dispute deals a blow to UN efforts to avoid a second fiasco after the original 2001 Durban conference on racism, which also saw Western delegates leave over the Israeli-Arab issue.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had initially criticised the countries which stayed away in protest. But after Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech, the Un chief said he deplored "the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite."

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Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

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