‘Naive and embarrassing’ EU blasted for sending official to Iran President’s inauguration

Iran: Expert says ‘tensions are very high right now’

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And Dutch MEP Michiel Hoogeveen has warned the move risks damaging relations with Israel at a crucial time, with tensions already high in the wake of a drone attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker off the coast of Oman which claimed the lives of two people, including one UK citizen. Mr Raisi has taken over from Hassan Rouhani, having been elected in highly controversial circumstances earlier this year amid suggestions by among others reformist candidate Mohsen Mehralizadeh that the result was a foregone conclusion.

Yesterday’s ceremony, held in the Iranian capital of Tehran, was attended by Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service.

EEAS spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said Mr Mora was attending on behalf of Josep Borrell, who as the bloc’s High Representative is its highest-ranking diplomat.

She added: “It is crucial to engage diplomatically with the new administration and to pass directly important messages.”

However, Mr Hoogeveen, who represents the right-wing Forum for Democracy (FVD) party in the European Parliament, was far from impressed.

He told Express.co.uk: “The EU is completely sending the wrong message.

“The inauguration of radical Islamic president Raisi is part of Iran’s increasingly hardline policy.

“Raisi was responsible for executions of political prisoners in 1988.”

Mr Hoogeveen cited concerns over the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPOCA), a landmark deal struck with Iran in 2015 aimed at deterring it from developing nuclear weapons, as having motivated eurocrats.

Former US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his country from the agreement in 2018, citing alleged multiple violations highlighted by ex-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has left other signatories scrambling to try and salvage it.

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It is childishly naive and embarrassing

Michiel Hoogeveen

Mr Hoogeveen explained: “Apparently, the EU wants to ‘save’ the JPOCA, also known as the nuclear deal.

“It is childishly naive and embarrassing.

“In addition, this move disrupts the relations of EU member states with the State of Israel, our biggest ally in the region.”

He added: “It shows the EU’s ‘foreign policy’ is fiction, only for Brussels to realise its geopolitical dreams.

“But as we have seen many times, it is counterproductive.

“I am in favour of realpolitik. And sometimes in diplomacy you need to speak with one’s adversaries.

“But that should be left to the individual member-states. Not the EU bureaucracy.”

Israel has also strongly criticised the decision, with Lior Hayat, a spokesman for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeting: “The decision of the European Union to send a senior representative to the swearing-in ceremony of the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ is puzzling and shows poor judgment.

“The participation of the EU representative in the ceremony comes just a few days after Iran killed two civilians, one of whom was from an EU Member State, in an act of state terrorism against civilian shipping.”

He added: “The new Iranian president has the blood of thousands of Iranian citizens on his hands and the EU participation gives legitimacy to the Iranian attack and the policy of aggression of the ayatollahs’ government.

“Flattery and subservience to violent and totalitarian regimes only encourages further violence and aggression.

“We strongly recommend the EU to immediately cancel their shameful participation in the inauguration ceremony of the butcher of Tehran.”

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