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Speech by Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt at the Conference in the European Parliament

On November 22, in Strasbourg, members of the European Parliament extended an invitation to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), for a discussion on the Iranian regime's role in the ongoing Middle East conflict and the escalating human rights violations within Iran. During the meeting, MEP and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt drew attention to a significant amendment in the EU treaties.
Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt

On November 22, in Strasbourg, members of the European Parliament extended an invitation to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), for a discussion on the Iranian regime’s role in the ongoing Middle East conflict and the escalating human rights violations within Iran. During the meeting, MEP and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt drew attention to a significant amendment in the EU treaties.

This amendment enables sanctions on authoritarian regimes to be imposed by a qualified majority rather than requiring unanimous agreement. Verhofstadt criticized what he perceived as Europe’s lack of assertiveness in addressing the Iranian regime, emphasizing both its internal and external challenges. He called for more robust sanctions, underscoring the limited impact of existing measures.

MEP Verhofstadt voiced his support for a proactive approach against the Iranian regime and pledged to collaborate with his colleagues to initiate a parliamentary debate with Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Their goal is to scrutinize the EU’s position on Tehran and advocate for a policy of sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Guy Verhofstadt: We Will Push Borrell for Harsher Condemnation and Sanction Policy Against Iran’s Regime

The full text of MEP Guy Verhofstadt’s speech follows:

Thank you. Mrs. Rajavi, first of all, may I apologize that I’m only a few moments, but there was today an important vote in the European Parliament on a report that I initiated together with a number of colleagues on the change of the treaties of the European Union.

And I have to tell you that it has a direct link with Iran and with your struggle and your fight because one of the reforms we have approved is that in the future, to put sanctions on authoritarian regimes, we will choose not unanimity anymore, but a qualified majority.

And I think that is something that is critical for Iran because my opinion is that Europe is far too weak in its approach to this criminal regime in Tehran and in Iran, far too weak.

I don’t know, but I still have the impression that a number of people in Europe think that we can do business with the Mullahs. And we know already for a long time, ladies and gentlemen, that there is no difference between the so-called moderates and the extremists in the Mullah regime, they are all extremists, it’s very simple.

And there is no deal that, in my opinion, not even on the nuclear disarmament, that can be made. And the fact that in the future we could decide with a majority voting, qualified majority on sanctions would certainly improve the situation.

Because like I said, our position is too weak. If you look at what type of sanctions we have done on Iran, they are very limited.

There are only something a little bit more than 200 people, Iranian people who are responsible and have been put under sanctions by the European Union, while already the Revolutionary Guard in itself is a terrorist organization and should put, everybody who is a member of it, active in it under the sanction regime.

In total, 12 people in Iran have been put under sanctions for helping the export of weapons from Iran to Russia for the brutal invasion. Twelve people. It’s like a joke.

I think that there are more than 12 people in the Iranian regime the military and the government who are responsible for such things. So I think that, and I said that to Mr. Borrell directly already, I said that after a debate here in the Parliament, everybody was criticizing Iran, and for good reasons, because the policy we are following is, like I said, too weak, certainly because the problem with Iran and the Iranian regime is not only a problem internally, it’s also a problem externally.

It’s internal and external. Internally they are oppressing a whole population. They are using the most brutal instruments, death penalties, as we can see, also against ordinary people who simply protest against the regime, and externally they are destabilizing half of the world.

I’m not exaggerating, but everything that is happening in the Middle East for the moment is also linked to Iran, to the support that Iran is giving to Hamas, to the support that Iran is giving to Hezbollah, to the cruelties that Iran has given to Bashar al-Assad in oppressing the Syrian people still today, and in helping, as we all know, Russia in its brutal invasion against Ukraine, and that’s only a limited list of the involvement of the Iranian regime inside the Middle East and other parts of the world.

So if we would be rational in the West, in the US, and in Europe, there is only one conclusion that we can make. We need to develop policies, we need to put a far more package of sanctions on the table to stop and to change this regime.

There is nothing positive that can come from the Mullahs. That is the conclusion that we have to make, nothing positive.

And so I think it’s very good that you are here in the Parliament, in this building here in Strasbourg, to explain that, because from time to time also in our Parliament there are people with strange ideas that are going, in my opinion, in the wrong direction.

And therefore I’m very pleased that – and my proposal to the other groups in the coming weeks will be that we have again a debate with Mr Borrell, that again as Parliament we push the Executive of the Union, so the Commission, and especially him, to a far more proactive, harsher condemnation and sanction policy against the Iranian regime. Thank you very much.

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