diplomacy

Violence in Iran condemned

On Tuesday afternoon Iran's ambassador to Sweden was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where the Ministry's top civil servant expressed Sweden's strong concern regarding the developments in Teheran.

"We condemned the ongoing repression that we see against the media, against journalists, the restrictions on the internet and all those things - but also condemned, very very clearly, the use of force and violence against peaceful demonstrators," said Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at a press conference in Stockholm.

"I do not think he was particularly surprised, because we have expressed it in public, but it was more as a formality that we decided to do that," said Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

In several other European countries, the Iranian ambassadors were summoned and given a similar message.

The press conference in Stockholm on Tuesday afternoon was held together with the EU's foreign policy spokes person Javier Solana, who was visiting ahead of Sweden taking over the EU presidency on the first of July. According to Solana, there is not much the EU can do, apart from condemnations.

"At this moment, there is not much we can do. Some Embassies are helping with what they can, but we do not have the means to do anything in an important significant manner, but using what we can in politics: expression. We speak, we say, we talk, we try to mobilise a different behaviour," said Solana.

Meanwhile, UK announced that it has ordered the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats, in response to Tehran having ordered two UK diplomats to leave the country. Carl Bildt, however, firmly rejected the idea to call back any Swedish diplomats from Iran.

"The Embassy in Teheran is already quite small, like many other Swedish Embassies around the world. It will be fully staffed from today, with four diplomats. And that is really what we need on the ground, at this particular period in time - at the least!"

Asked if it is an option for the Swedish Embassy in Teheran to open its doors to Iranian people in need, Bildt said that the Embassy does not have the capacity for something like that, but that it has to concentrate on consular issues.

Another question, regarding the possibility for EU to put more concrete pressure on the regime in Iran, for example with economic sanctions, was also rejected.

"I think that this shows that there is a strong will to change and reform in the Iranian society. If we long-term can open up more towards the iranian society, towards the young people who want contact with the world around them, who want a dialogue and an opening, that is rather the way we should go, to isolate Iran even more is to lock them with the dark forces."