European Parliament cuts ties with Iran over sanctions

Brussels reacts to Iranian measures against six MEPs

Naz Gharai, from Tehran, is covered in red paint as protesters call on the UN to take action over the treatment of women in Iran. Last month, the EU issued sanctions against several Iranian institutions and individuals over Tehran's crackdown on protesters. AFP
Powered by automated translation

The European Parliament has severed ties with Iran following last month's decision by Tehran to issue sanctions against six MEPs.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told Monday's opening of the parliament’s November plenary session in Strasbourg that there would be "no direct contact" between the body's delegations and committees and their Iranian counterparts.

The situation would continue "until further notice," she added.

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused six MEPs, two French politicians, as well as several European media outlets, chemical companies and NGOs of inciting terrorism and violence in the country.

Tehran claimed this had led to “rioting, violence, acts of terror and violations of human rights against the Iranian nation”.

The six MEPs sanctioned are Javier Zarzalejos, Milan Azver, Charlie Weimers, Jan Zahradil, Helmut Geuking and Hermann Tertsch.

Mr Zarzalejos, from Spain, told The National that "he could not care less" about the sanctions, which trigger a travel ban to Iran, and hailed Ms Metsola for protecting "a democratic Parliament its members."

Mr Weimers said that he believed he had been sanctioned because he had "openly spoken the truth about the regime since becoming an MEP in 2019: the Islamic Republic is an evil republic."

He said that the European Parliament's decision to cut ties with Iran was a good first step but that more needed to be done.

"The European Parliament needs to: block any entry of Iranian officials to the European Parliament; cancel the foreign affairs committee's mission to Iran and not put it up for reassessment for the second half of 2023; and in light of Iran’s support for terrorism consider a security protocol for the sanctioned MEPs," said Mr Weimers, a Swedish politician.

Iran's sanctions are widely viewed as a retaliatory move for those issued by Brussels on October 17 against 15 Iranian individuals and institutions — including the regime's morality police — aimed at punishing the Iranian government for its bloody repression of protesters.

Mr Geuking, a German politician, said that the fact that Tehran targeted him and other MEPs showed that EU sanctions were working.

"This shows that our voices in Europe are likely to be heard and have an impact," he said.

"Our thoughts in Europe are always with the many people who rebel against injustice, murder, torture or state terrorism," he added.

So far, 336 demonstrators have been killed in the unrest in Iran and nearly 15,100 detained, according to the activist Human Rights Activists News Agency. The riots were triggered by the death in police custody of a 22-year-old woman in September.

The EU earlier this month issued a second round of sanctions against 32 Iranian entities and individuals.

Those under sanction have been hit by a travel ban that prevents them from entering the EU, and institutions are subject to frozen assets. EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 9:07 PM