Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Calls for EU World Cup travel ban on Iran president

EUpolitix - 2 June 2006

EU leaders and FIFA should not allow Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the World Cup say MEPs in a letter to be sent to Europe’s governments.

75 MEPs on Thursday signed a letter calling on world football’s governing body to ban the Iranian president from the championship, which starts next week in Germany.

“The EU has already banned Mugabe – Zimbabwe – and Lukashenko – Belarus – from its territory” argued the UK Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, vice-chairman of parliament’s human rights committee.

“We believe the Iranian leader should join this rogue’s gallery of unwelcome individuals in our countries.”

According to the MEPs, Ahmadinejad should be banned from EU territory for his statements on Israel as well as the repeated violations of human rights by Tehran.

The Iranian president has recently claimed that Israel should be wiped off the map and that the holocaust was a “myth”.

“Europe must show a strong signal, that such stances of the Iranian president are not to be tolerated,” said centre-right MEP Jana Hybášková , head of the delegation for relations with Israel.

“The president of the Islamic republic of Iran is not welcome in Europe, whether it is for the World Cup or not,” the Czech MEP added.

Iran has been defiant in its refusal to bow to pressure from the US and EU to put an end to its nuclear programme.

But Ahmadinejad is unlikely to face any blanket travel ban to the EU, since visa decisions are down to individual member states.