24th April 2013


A planned visit to Iran by a delegation of left-wing MEPs on 26th April is an appalling act of naivety and will send mixed signals about our resolve towards the regime.

A previous visit was cancelled last October after Iranian authorities refused the delegation permission to human rights activists. The delegation was approved last week at a meeting of the European Parliament’s group leaders, despite opposition from the Conservatives. Regrettably the Liberal leader, Guy Verhofstadt, sided with the left in the meeting.

It comes despite the EU’s recent renewal of sanctions for human rights' abuses, as well as sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

The European Parliament is making a profound mistake. We cannot afford to send mixed signals to Tehran about our resolve to tackle Iran’s nuclear programme and our disgust at its human rights record. We need to stand united and allow relations to be handled through those with experience.

Liberal Democrat MEPs, such as Sir Graham Watson, need to think very carefully about allowing their leader to support such a proposal. This visit will be abused by the Iranian authorities for their own propaganda. We should not hand them such an opportunity.

The left-wing MEPs on this visit seem to think they will be able to talk the Government around into stopping its nuclear programme and improving human rights. Whilst I do not doubt their commitment, they are being utterly naïve.

Liberal Democrats are quick to boast that they hold the 'balance of power' in the European Parliament. What a shame they have used that power to give strength to Iran's despotic regime.

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