BRUSSELS, December 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Iran News Update (http://www.irannewsupdate.com) has learned that members of two major groups of European Parliament have rejected going to Tehran.
According to several sources, members of the Europe People's Party group (Christian Democrats) and European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) have denounced the trip of a number of MEPs to Iran scheduled to take place from 12-17 December. The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 275 Members from 27 Member States.
The groups cited several reasons for refusing to take part in the trip including the gross human rights violations by the Iranian regime. They pointed out that the European Union maintains numerous sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities, linked to violations of human rights in the country. A number of MEPs who refused to take part in the trip, including Potito Salatto (Italy) are members of EP group responsible for relations with Iran.
The EPP Group Coordinator on Foreign Affairs, Jose Ignacio Salafranca MEP, stated: "No member of the EPP Group will take part in this delegation. The EPP Group regrets that the number of executions in Iran has increased since the arrival of the new administration".
Salafranca, who was commenting on behalf of the EPP Group, emphasized that "one of the essential elements of interparliamentary dialogue should include human rights, as well as NGOs and representatives of the opposition".
The ECR Group also attacked a delegation of left-wing MEPs heading off to Iran on Thursday, without setting any preconditions including the human rights situation.
ECR Leader Martin Callanan said that Iran's human rights record is showing no sign of improvement under Rouhani, and the MEPs should not be making the visit until there is a clear change of attitude on questions surrounding human rights, support for terror, and clear action regarding nuclear proliferation.
He criticized the traveling MEPs as "being exceptionally naïve" and said: "We should only re-establish this kind of contact with Iran once the regime has shown a sustained commitment to improving its abysmal human rights record." He elaborated, "Unfortunately, this delegation risks handing a despotic regime propaganda coup...This delegation seriously risks handing Rouhani an early Christmas present."