IN ENGLISH. Iran & Europe: a chill after the storm?


TUE 27.04.10 | 20:30

Beursschouwburg | Beurskafee, A. Ortstraat 20-28 Brussels

In English!

Ahmadinejad was re-elected in June 2009 as president of Iran. The supporters of Musavi disputed the election results and accused Ahmadinejad of fraud. Although the bloody demonstrations appear to have come to an end, opinions on how Europe should react to the situation in Iran are divided. A debate with, amongst others, the author Shervin Nekuee (Eutopia and senior editor of TehranReview), Euro Parliamentarian Annemie Neyts and Dirk-Jan van Baar (HP/de Tijd). Moderator: Jef Lambrecht.

The ties between Europe and Iran have been strained for a long time. Iran refuses to terminate its nuclear program, despite repeated threats of new sanctions against the country. The role of Iran as most important country in the region is not to be underestimated and because of that the West looks scrutinously at Iran, which could – under the leadership of anti-American and anti-Israel president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – be developing a nuclear weapon. In the resolution of February the 10th 2010, the European Union expressed its concern regarding the immense violation of human rights in Iran – a situation which has deteriorated since 2005, as illustrated by the use of violence and executions during the recent demonstrations against the Ahmadinejad regime. How should Europe deal with the recent problems in Iran and the possible nuclear threat?

Supporters of severe sanctions against Iran remind us of the earlier sanctions that didn’t help. With words alone, they say, Europe will achieve nothing. For more than ten years the matter of the alleged military nuclear program of Iran has kept the international society awake at night. Western inspectors are kept in the dark all the time, and Iran still refuses to give clearance. In addition to that, it is very likely that the elections were fraudulent and that the actions against the population were out of proportion. Some think it is too late for negotiations. It is time for action.

Opponents of sanctions are afraid that such sanctions and strong rhetoric are primarily to the disadvantage of the Iranian people. One fears that they will be exploited to justify the economical failure of Ahmadinejad’s reign and will be used as an excuse to limit the freedom of the population. Also a possible war, like the one in Iraq, would be disastrous for the Iranian population in the first place.

What can condemnations and concerns regarding the violation of human rights accomplish? Should we be afraid for the Iranian nuclear program? Do European leaders concur in their view towards Iran? How does this situation relate to the one in Iraq before the war? In short: what is the relation between Europe and Iran at this moment and how should we proceed?

This debate is organised following the trip to Iran made by journalist Ann de Craemer (°1982) and photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue (°1982). The journey was commissioned by deBuren and aimed to make a commentary on the daily life in times of political changes. Their journey from Teheran in the north to Bandar Abbas in the south now culminates in a book on the one hand and a photo exhibit on the other hand. Both were presented in the FotoMuseum in Antwerp on the 25th of May.
The book (in Dutch) Duizend-en-één dromen. Een reis langs de Trans-Iraanse Spoorlijn (Uitgeverij Lannoo) (Thousand-and-one-dreams. A journey along the Trans-Iranian railway) by Ann De Craemer is for sale in bookstores, but also on the evening of the debate.

Jef Lambrecht: 'Onbevangen maar met bagage en kennis van de taal registreert Ann De Craemer de stemming in Iran.' (Ann de Craemer registers the mood in Iran, unbiased but with a lot of background knowledge and familiarity with the language.)

The exhibition Iran op de Grens (Iran on the border) by Pieter-Jan De Pue runs till the 16th of May in the Fotomuseum in Antwerp. Click here for more information.