Iran: A visit by the European Parliament to Iran will send the wrong message. Ioannis Kasoulides, José Ignacio Salafranca and Elmar Brok MEPs

Clarifying the decision of the EPP Group to not take part in a planned visit by a European Parliament (EP) delegation to Iran at the end of October 2012, Ioannis Kasoulides MEP, EPP Group Vice-Chairman responsible for Foreign Affairs, said: „A visit to Iran at this particular time would send the wrong message and could prove to be damaging. The EPP Group supports the latest Foreign Affairs Council decisions to increase sanctions against the banking, shipping and industrial sectors of Iran, aimed at affecting Iran’s nuclear programme and revenues for funding it. Also, the EPP Group stands behind the efforts of the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, to engage Iran in meaningful and constructive discussions and therefore we regard any interference to these negotiations as counterproductive and harmful“.

Speaking on the same issue, Ignacio Salafranca MEP, EPP Group spokesman on the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, added: „We are particularly concerned about the EP decision to go on with the visit to Iran later this month. We strongly believe that the timing is badly chosen, given Iran’s failure to comply with the United Nations Security Council decisions on suspending its nuclear enrichment program and, on top of that, at a time when the European Parliament is about to decide on the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2012, for which two Iranian human rights activists are candidates. It is for all these reasons we consider that such a visit would send a wrong, confusing message“.

Also commenting, Elmar Brok MEP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, said: „We ask for the postponement of the meeting until the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, gives us the green light to go on with it, given the ongoing negotiations she is involved with in Iran. The European Parliament should not damage the EU position and become an instrument of Iranian propaganda“.

The visit by the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Iran is scheduled to take place between 27 October and 2 November 2012.

For further information:
Ioannis KASOULIDES MEP, Tel: +33-3-88175155
José Ignacio SALAFRANCA SÁNCHEZ-NEYRA MEP, Tel: +33-3-88175603
Elmar BROK MEP, Tel: +33-3-88175323
Evangelia Mitsopoulou, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-475-751574