Commentary: Europe and Iran: Terror list or dialogue

2009/12/04

Published in “Wiener Zeitung” (Austria) on December 4, 2009
http://www.wienerzeitung.at/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=4445&alias=wzo&cob=454328

By Stephan Grigat

While the supporters of the amazingly persistent freedom movement in Iran continue to risk their lives in the streets fighting against the “Islamic Republic”, and announced to be holding massive protests on the “Student Day” on December 7, domestic [Austrian] politicians still flatter a regime that by its procrastinating tactics about the country’s nuclear program publicly messes around with the West, and that certainly poses a massive threat not only for Israel.

A meeting between the chief of the delegation of the ÖVP to the European Parliament, Ernst Strasser, and the Iranian delegate to the EU Ali Asghar Khaji is scheduled to take place on Wednesday in Brussels. Strasser, whose political friend, the president of the Austrian chamber of commerce Christoph Leitl, vehemently supports the expansion of economic relations with Iran, thus maintains the Austrian policy of cooperation and appeasement with a regime that stages conferences to deny the Holocaust and uses the gains from foreign trade to support Jihad terror organizations. Those who chat with delegates of the “Islamic Republic” make the policy of the Iranian regime look worthy of discussing and stabs the opposition in the back.

Foreign minister Michael Spindelegger recently expressed “a clear No” to new gas deals with Iran. And indeed, the planned billion business deals of the OMV are likely to be put on hold. The question is, however, why this should impress Austrian companies that are not involved in the gas business – especially since such announcements are a mere political lip service and are never translated into legal rules.

So far, such statements have merely served as a response to the growing criticism of Austria’s hesitant behavior. Why should a company like KTM, that is facing accusations about their motorcycles showing up at military parades in Iran, take the Foreign Minister’s rhetoric serious? Or the construction company Andritz in Graz which maintains its own office in Tehran and is suspected to be involved in transactions with the Revolutionary Guards, who are estimated to now control up to 70 percent of the Iranian economy.

Whoever there is in Austria to be seriously willing to put an end to 30 years of cooperation and appeasement with the Iranian regime, could learn a lesson from the parliament of the Netherlands, that has just recently decided to pledge the government in Den Haag to advocate with the EU for the Revolutionary Guards to be included in the list of terrorist organizations. Not that this would be sufficient for a consistent approach to the Iranian regime, but it would certainly be considerably more than the previous inconsequential statements of Austrian politicians.

Stephan Grigat is co-editor of “Der Iran – Analyse einer islamischen Diktatur und ihrer europäischen Förderer” (“Iran – analysis of an Islamic dictatorship and its European promoters”).

Print edition of Friday, 4. December 2009

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