Saeed Kamali Dehghan — Guardian.co.uk Nov 10, 2013
France’s role in Geneva talks that ended with no agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme has prompted bewilderment and anger inside Iran.
Iranians, who stayed awake all night to find out whether their negotiators have reached a breakthrough with the west, were disappointed that France was prepared to defy the Americans and block a stopgap deal, and that western sanction would not end any time soon.
The Irna state news agency reported that Iranian businessmen were considering reducing their trade ties with France, saying they no longer considered it as a good partner because of its “adventurist and immature behaviour” at Geneva.
“A group of Tehran-based industrialists held a meeting here on Sunday focusing on reduction of Tehran-Paris trade ties,” reported Irna. “They believe that the imbalanced policies of Paris on Tehran have stripped Paris of its status as a good economic partner of Iran.”
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, reacting to news from Geneva, said Tehran would not bow to “sanctions, threats, contempt and discrimination”, the state-run Press TV reported. Rouhani was speaking to the members of Iran’s parliament, Majlis, where he was defending his nominee for the sports ministry, Nasrollah Sajjadi.
“For us, red lines are not to be crossed. The rights of the Iranian nation and [our] national interests are our red lines,” he said. Without directly referring to France, Rouhani added: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has not bowed and will not bow to threats by any power.”
In reaction to the Geneva talks, the Twitter account believed to be run by the office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted old remarks Iran’s supreme leader made about France in a speech in March.
“French officials have been openly hostile towards the Iranian nation over the past few years; this is an imprudent and inept move,” the tweet says. “A wise man, particularly a wise politician, should never have the motivation to turn a neutral entity into an enemy.” That speech in the eastern city of Mashhad, east Iran, was the first time Khamenei referred to France as Iran’s enemy along with the US and Britain.
As France’s hardline stance in Geneva became public on Saturday, Iranian web users posted their disgust on the official Facebook page of the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius. “Shame of you,” read one comment. Another one said: “Mr. Fabius …Why?”
Some in Iran also joked that the recent developments will make France Iran’s top enemy, perhaps replacing the US as le grand satan.
Iran’s ultra-conservative newspaper Keyhan, whose director is appointed by Khamenei, published an article on Sunday describing Fabius as “the servant of the zionist regime”.
It continued: “The disgraceful behaviour of the French foreign minister in the Geneva talks and his remarks on behalf of the zionist regime once again shows the national interests of French people are taken hostage [by Israel].”
“Exhausted but hopeful”, read the headline of the reformist newspaper Shargh next to the image of the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, talking at a press conference alongside his EU counterpart, Catherine Ashton.
The Geneva talks dominated the front pages of almost all Iranian publications on Sunday, with many printing second or third editions. “Agreement in suspension”, read the headline of the reformist Etemaad.