The participation of European Union’s Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini at the inauguration of Iranian president Rouhani drew negative media and bloggers attention, and rightfully so.
Her participation raises questions regarding the direction that Europe is choosing, and its appearance of shedding its own values. Although there were additional lower level European representatives, from the UK and France for instance, her presence carried more significance due to her representative role.
Several authors (see weeklystandard and algemeiner) raised the shady character of her counterparts, she stood shoulder to shoulder with, at this gathering. Among them, a gallery of war criminals, Hezbollah terrorists, North Korean high ranking officials (like President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s assembly) and the Zimbabwean President Mugabe. The latter, who’s human rights abuses led the EU to place a travel ban on him in 2002. Strange that the EU rep should find pride in such counterparts.
Her visit, endowing legitimacy to the Iranian regime, is shadowed by recent damning reports on Iran. Amnesty released a report unfolding how Iran vilifies human rights defenders as “enemies of the state”. The report details deteriorating conditions for peaceful activists in Iran concluding that Iran has waged a “vicious crackdown against human rights defenders” and is engaged in a “web of repression” since Rouhani became president. Amnesty rep declares “the international community, and in particular the EU, must not stay silent over the outrageous treatment of human rights defenders in Iran”. Voa editorial released “recent violations of religious freedom in Iran”. Thetower recently released their piece titled under moderate Rouhani Iran is as repressive as ever, echoing the Amnesty report, in relation to the grim picture that emerges, summarizing “Iran leaves footprints of blood wherever it goes”. Thetower goes a step further in negating the erroneous European conceptions regarding the effectiveness of appeasement towards Iran, “the myth of the rise of moderates” and “European wishful thinking”.
Mogherini’s presence drew criticism from different quarters. From the Italian LGBT blog gaiaitalia, which related to her behavior as a “humiliation to herself and the entire EU”. From distinguished European figures, like the current President of the Brussels based international committee in Search of Justice (ISJ), Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former vice president of the European parliament, who, in euractiv, described her attendance as “morally and politically unconscionable”. He also related to her attendance as an encouragement of Iranian impunity.
It may be true that Iranian MP’s gave a moment of stardom to Mogherini in their quest for embarrassing selfies with her, as described in the bbc, but still questionable whether a moment of stardom, for a grey politician, is worth relinquishing long term values, like a principled stand on zero legitimacy to a state which violates basic human rights in such a gross manner. The bigger question to be asked is why and how the EU forgets and sheds its values so easily when it comes to Iran.