Lately it seems as if all Google searches on Iran can come up with are think pieces on the Geneva deal. It’s as if nothing else is happening out there regarding Tehran.
Of course, we have no way of knowing whether it’s intentional, but it certainly is strange. We found especially peculiar in this context the lack of any reference to recent bilateral activity between Italy and Iran, a relationship approaching the boiling point.
For those who missed it: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino just returned from Iran. During her visit, she said in a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif that Rome “wants to win the friendship race with Tehran.” Now we know for sure that such a race is on….
Bonino is the first senior European leader to visit Tehran since the Geneva deal, a high-profile visit which included meetings with President Hassan Rouhani and parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Her agenda covered discussions on the Syrian crisis, bilateral relations, environmental issues and Italy’s campaign for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council.
During her visit, the Italian foreign minister also announced that a delegation of businessmen would visit Tehran in the near future, as well as the head of the Italian Senate’s Foreign Policy Commission.
It doesn’t end there. Bonino also announced that Rome’s culture minister would visit Tehran to boost ties with his Iranian counterpart Ali Jannati – who, it must be noted, actually heads a ministry dedicated not just to culture but also to “Islamic Guidance” – a ministry notorious for its strict censorship of publications and its social media bans.
Not exactly the best match for a European cultural ministry, of course, but what does that matter when a coveted UN seat hangs in the balance?