Uniting for Freedom, Democracy & Equality

Franco Frattini’s Remarks to the Conference, “Holding the Mullahs’ Regime Accountable for Genocide, Terrorism, and Nuclear Defiance.” —January 17, 2022

Franco Frattini— Foreign minister of Italy (in 2002–2004 and 2008–2011)
Franco Frattini— Foreign minister of Italy (in 2002–2004 and 2008–2011)

Franco Frattini— Foreign minister of Italy (in 2002–2004 and 2008–2011) and once European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security (2004–2008), addressed at the International Conference entitled, “Holding the Mullahs’ Regime Accountable for Genocide, Terrorism, and Nuclear Defiance.”

This conference hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Auvers-sur-Oise, north of Paris, on Monday, January 17, 2022.

These are excerpts from the original remarks:

Thank you very much, Madam President. I will stress three points and I will make a suggestion. First of all, I pay tribute to those who have lost their lives for a free and democratic Iran. We have been listening to some of the witnesses. But unfortunately those who lost their lives are not here, but we have every day, every minute to pay a strong tribute to their memory, to their courage, to their determination to build a democratic Iran. Those who have been fighting for a free and democratic Iran are the good believers. They are the good Muslims. They respect their religion. The religious tyranny does not respect religion because they incite or directly commit mass killings. It is my moral duty to pay tribute to those who have been so brave to put at risk their lives and the life of their relatives, their brothers, their fathers, and so on.

I remember very well when people used to say there is some differences between reformists and conservatives. This is absolutely not true. I remember when in 2003 I, as Italian foreign minister, along others were starting to negotiate with the regime about nuclear proliferation. There were so-called reformists, Khatami and Foreign Minister Kharrazi. If I compare those leaders at that time, these are exactly the same people as today. I don’t see any difference. They just wanted to get something more as a trade off, to be free to continue abuses at the expense of their people. They are always the same. They have only one preoccupation, which is to follow the orders of the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is one person who installs the president and who has the ultimate say in Iran. The point is that we have to dismiss the optimism of some who seek a better leadership. There is no better leadership. There is only the same policy to continue with oppression and abuses.

Some also claim we have to lift sanctions because the sanctions are affecting innocent people and their daily lives. This is absolutely not true. More money is spent on the nuclear program than paying for the expenses of ordinary people. No money is distributed to ordinary people or to improve the quality of life of Iranians. So support the idea of being stricter, not weaker, when dealing with sanctions for violation of international rules by the regime of Iran. No complacency. We have to recognize that every additional dollar will be spent by improving and strengthening the military and nuclear apparatus against the people in the squares, in the streets, and to increase the nuclear capacity to dominate, to intimidate not only the people of Iran while they protest – and the protests have increased compared to the past – but also to try to dominate the region, thus contributing greatly to the destabilization of the whole Middle East.

Think about terrorism. Think about destabilization. If we don’t care about such real problems which emerge from places that are far from us, sooner or later they will come to our homeland. It is demonstrated by the terrorist attacks committed by the people sent by the Iranian regime to kill innocent people in the territory of Europe. If we ignore what they are doing, sooner or later, they will come to kill in our neighborhood. This is why it is so important to be very firm. The prevention of increasing power and capacity of this bloody regime is not only a moral duty, it also serves the protection and promotion of universal rights. Universal rights should be a part of our policy. It corresponds also to our practical interest. If we ignore that, the regime will grow stronger. They will organize to kill and to affect our countries.

My second point concerns human rights. I’m a judge by career. I’m just being appointed as the president of the Italian Supreme Court. So in that capacity, I can understand how to prevent and how to react to this kind of massive violations. These violations correspond undoubtedly to massive crimes against humanity.

Those crimes have to be punished without time limits. This is the point that justifies and imposes our common action. We are not talking about demands of 30 years ago. We are talking about the duty of punishing crimes that cannot disappear. Those crimes have to be punished independently, and regardless of the passage of time, because otherwise it would be too easy for a ruthless dictatorship to try to cover up the evidence to try to hide behind the argument of passage of time. This is absolutely not possible.

There are three steps here. First, there must be a real political will to counteract these kind of actions that will permanently be disgraced. We see some who advocate a terrible theory, which says we have to negotiate and persuade the Iranian regime to give up killing or torturing or imprisoning political opponents. This is absolutely stupid. You cannot imagine that a regime like the Iranian regime can be persuaded. They are preserving their power through violence and other abuses. We have to exercise more political strength and more political goodwill, but also by resorting to international legal elements, meaning using the free and independent international investigations carried out by United Nations. We have in the European continent a quite important instrument, which is the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe relies on the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Council of Europe is frequently opening investigations. Since we are talking about a council made up of many more countries than simply the European Union member states countries, we could have more leverage to put pressure or at least to raise awareness in countries that still don’t understand or want to ignore this terrible situation of Iran. The people of Iran, those who you represent every day, cannot be alone. We should send a message that this regime has to go and is close to the end. This regime cannot use its power to kill its people instead of improving the quality of life of these people. 

And my final point is the following. In my current role as a judge and particularly in the Supreme Court, I think we have to work to create an international jurisdiction, maybe by strengthening the role of the International Criminal Court. I understand there are serious legal problems, but we have to try to overcome politically these legal problems in order to have a universal binding jurisdiction with respect to the violation of non-negotiable human rights. We recognize the enormous efforts of you, of the resistance of the communities of Iranians abroad. But we have to be aware that if we don’t find a concrete way to punish, to stop, to isolate this blood-thirsty regime, it will take a longer time than we would like. Thank you very much.