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EU mulls diplomatic pullout in Iran: Sweden

AFP/The Local · 3 Jul 2009, 08:55

Published: 03 Jul 2009 08:55 GMT+02:00

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European nations have been considering a proposal from Britain to recall their ambassadors from Iran in protest at the detention of the British embassy employees.

"We are ready to take action if we don't get a reaction" from the Iranian regime, a spokeswoman for Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told AFP on Thursday.

According to the British government, seven of the nine local staff originally detained have now been released. They were also investigating reports that one of the two remaining detainees had also been freed.

The nine local employees from the British embassy were arrested by Iranian authorities on June 28th.

Iran accuses Britain of having orchestrated the protests against the result of the country's recent presidential vote, which sparked the most violent protests in the history of the Islamic Republic.

According to Iran's chief of police, at least 20 people have lost their lives in the unrest.

The Iranian authorities allege the British embassy sent its staff into the midst of the opposition demonstrations to stir up trouble after Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.

Britain has vehemently denied the charge.

Bildt's spokeswoman Irena Busic voiced hope that it would not be necessary to freeze diplomatic ties with Tehran.

"We are interested in maintaining relations with Iran. We are expecting further contacts with them regarding the British personnel," she said.

"We take things step-by-step and wait for the Iranian reaction," Busic added.

While many EU nations are reluctant to pull their ambassadors out of Tehran, they hope diplomatic pressure will secure the release of all British embassy employees.

One idea being circulated is to recall ambassadors for a few days as a sign of protest, according to one European source.

A two-day meeting of senior European foreign affairs officials opened in Stockholm Thursday focused on the EU response to the events in Iran.

Despite vocal condemnation of the crackdown on peaceful protests, the Europeans like the US have adopted a measured approach towards Tehran, keen not to compromise talks on its controversial nuclear programme.

Story continues below…

Iran has already accused the US and Europe of interfering in its internal affairs.

On Wednesday an Iranian military official, cited by a local news agency, said Europe had "disqualified" itself from taking part in the nuclear talks.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country assumed the rotating EU presidency on Wednesday, called on his partners to display prudence.

Europe should avoid polarising Iran from the rest of the world and giving the regime an excuse to use force and repression against opposition supporters, he warned.

The question of how to handle Iran is set to dominate the summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations in Italy next week.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:43 July 3, 2009 by sweco1
I would tend to side with the Iranians on this one!

The British government are not good Europeans.

There is another element at play. I would ike to see Queen Elizabeth II DNA test to see her real Heritage!
11:03 July 3, 2009 by Vitas
Carl Bildt is Lilliput in country of Giants.

You hear voice of mouse from underground?
12:16 July 3, 2009 by Nemesis
The allegation against Britain is stupid. No embassy staff in Europe would perform such an action, although Iranians might.

As for Sweco1 comment. Queen Elizabeth is descended from a German heritage. That is well known. So what, the Swedish royal fmaily is descended from a French guy appointed by Napoleon. Every country swapped royality at some point, not just in Europe.
12:32 July 3, 2009 by karex
All European Royal families are related one way or another, which has increased the risk of genetic diseases in these blood lines (hemophaelia, for one). As a matter of fact, almost all are descendants of Queen Victoria...

Having said that, I fail to see what heritage has to do with the subject at hand.
15:43 July 3, 2009 by truth
I think the news should be like this

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has said the EU is considering taking action against British embassy staff if Iran provide the proof what British embassy staff has been Done in Election against Iran

Its not new, British and US always create probelms in one area and then they say okey we will send our soldiers and will slove this issue as US did in 1980 against Sovit Union in Afganistan and now fighting with the same group from last 11 year to whom they funded in 1980. Then Hillary Clinton admits that yes we funded Taliben in 1980 to break Sovit Union
18:36 July 3, 2009 by Bushido
Karex is right, heritage has nothing to do with this. Whereas, the other posts here sound as ignorant as the Iranian dictators. The majority of Iranians want their voices to be heard, yet they are being stonewalled. If the Brits did assist in the undergroud movement against the election corruption, good on them! At least they did something.

It is better than Sweden did against the Nazis. To quote history, "During WWII, Sweden ignored the greater moral issues and played both sides for profit. Selling steel to the Nazi party, even when their neighbours were being murdered with that steel."

However, this has more to do with Europeans showing a united front against the Iranian tyrrany, and demonstrating outrage at their murdering of innocent Iranians.

The comments here by some, play directly into the hands of the Iranian zealots. They want as many anti-democracy traitors as they can muster, and you are those traitors.
19:49 July 3, 2009 by bekililly
21:45 July 3, 2009 by CTIDinÅrsta
By reading the article one becomes aware that the individuals who have been arrested are local employees of the Embassy - i.e. Iranians who work at the embassy, not British civil servants appointed from the UK.

The persecution of these individuals is a low and cowardly act by a childish, ignorant bullies.

Even taking a job at a Western Embassy in Iran requires courage and has repercussions for the individuals and their family that would make mot of us turn and run.

I have only admiration for the brave people who were and are prepared to go out onto the streets and oppose these ignorant bigots, whatever day job they have.

Gandhi said of Dictators - they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall - always.

(& Carl Bildt is about 6'5")
22:16 July 3, 2009 by skane refugee
I read somewhere that there's a popular expression in Iran (liberally translated ;o)) that "if you trip over a stone it's probably been placed there by the British" ...

Because of some dated colonial legacy, the Iranians appear totally paranoid about a tiny (less than 15% of the size of Iran, smaller than both Finland and Norway, and barely half the size of Sweden) country with limited global reach and even more limited ambition these days

If the Iranian leadership would only spend more time reading the 'unbiased and balanced' postings of most on 'TL discuss' they would soon discover that the British people have no redeeming characteristics whatsoever ;o) ... and frankly are barely capable of running a bath unsupervised ... let alone a major covert operation to overthrow a 'democratically elected' government in Iran ...

This would hopefully make them much more relaxed about the whole situation ;o) ;o)
22:29 July 3, 2009 by CTIDinÅrsta
Don't believe the hype, SR, we're just taking a tea break. Custard cream anyone?
22:44 July 3, 2009 by skane refugee
23:43 July 3, 2009 by glamshek
Why is EU not saying anything about Palestinians who are brutally murdered everyday. Why not against Tamil Tigers and SriLanks, why not Rawanda, why not Kashmir, and Why just Iran where only 100 or 200 people died after vandalising. These Mousavi supporters were vandalising and not doing any peaceful protests if anyone thinks so.
00:16 July 4, 2009 by Bushido

The EU has been more active against the sort of thing you mention, than you seem to know. If you want them to start pounding the table, as the US does, well I think we know how far that gets one.

As to the Iranian situation, and your ignorant comment about "only 100 or 200 people dying after vandalising" it is astounding that you, an immigrant, would support death as a means to stop it.

I suppose you also believe that Neda Agha Soltan was the ringleader, and also deserved to be assassinated?

Why not apply for a job with Ahmadinejad? Would your inspirational leader take you seriously? I think not. You'd be dead in a second.
13:16 July 4, 2009 by skane refugee
When it comes to defence and intelligence operations ... (ex-UK) European countries try to have it all ways ...

- They have saved an astronomically huge sum of taxpayers cash (relative to the anglo-americans) on cumulative defence spending in recent decades

- They don't divert highly educated people away from the real economy to military R&D and intelligence

- They don't risk significant casualties amongst their sons and daughters

- They don't risk the extremist backlash when unpopular interventions are made worldwide

- They don't risk the adverse global 'image hit' when interventions/military actions go wrong for whatever reason

- They get to criticise the Anglo-US defence establishment whatever they do

... while at the same time enjoying the de facto protection afforded by the anglo-US defence shield

If you're advocating a dramatic rise in (non-UK) European defence spending on world class intelligence agencies, satellite networks, military R&D, state of the art airforces, naval and army units/special forces then fair enough ...

... but make no mistake, the diversion of resources away from the real economy and cherished public spending/social programmes in Europe would need to amount to at least 6% of GDP (say 10%+ of government spending) for decades ...

Because so much of the current Anglo-American defence/intelligence infrastructure is a result of high spending/priority for many many years (i.e. it's already been bought) ... the Europeans would need to up their own spending to a far higher level than the current Anglo-US defence spending as a percentage of GDP to catch up in any meaningful time frame

Taxes are already eye-wateringly high in much of continental Europe, therefore the most likely source of this extra defence spending would be dramatic cuts in health, education, social services and pensions together with a diversion of some of their 'best and brightest' away from the real economy

If Europeans want real influence in global geo-politics ... that's the price ... very easy to understand ...

... but nearly impossible for politicians in Europe to get elected on that sort of platform of course ;o)
10:07 July 5, 2009 by CTIDinÅrsta
That's jolly unsporting of them, what! Fair play and all that! I shall write to the Daily Mail immediately - they'll stop the rot.

Good God, we'll be losing the Colonies next.
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