Tehran ‘stops visas’ for Poles in row over “anti-Iran circus”

Tehran ‘stops visas’ for Poles in row over “anti-Iran circus”
Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz risks upsetting the EU by agreeing to host the summit. He is seen with the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
By bne IntelliNews January 17, 2019

Iran has reportedly stopped issuing tourist visas to Poles following a diplomatic row over Poland agreeing to jointly host with the US what Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has described as a “desperate anti-Iran circus”.

The visa block was reported by Polish private radio station Radio Zet.

Zarif took to Twitter to hit out at the planned global summit focused on the Middle East, and particularly Iran, saying: “Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last U.S. anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever.”

He added that “while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus”.

Eyebrows might be raised in Brussels
Given that the European Union is working with Iran, Russia and China to preserve the Iran nuclear deal—which the US unilaterally abandoned in May last year—eyebrows in Brussels might be raised at Warsaw agreeing to jointly host the summit in the Polish capital from February 13 to February 14. But while it is a European Union member state, Poland, under its populist PiS government, has regular policy clashes with the eurocrats and has good relations with the Trump administration.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the meeting would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including on the “important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence”.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz echoed that line in discussing the rationale for the gathering. While his country supported Europe’s continued push to keep the nuclear deal alive, the situation “does not stop Iran from activities destabilising the region”, he said. He added that he hoped the event would bring the US and EU closer together on the Iran issue.  

Pompeo said the summit would “bring together dozens of countries from all around the world, from Asia, from Africa, from the Western Hemisphere countries, Europe too, [and] the Middle East of course”.

Charge d’affaires summoned
Following the announcement of the event, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Polish charge d’affaires Wojciech Unolt to explain his country’s action. Iran said Poland’s decision to jointly arrange the meeting was a “hostile act against Iran.” Iranian officials warned that Tehran could reciprocate with a “counter-action”.

 “Poland’s charge d’affaires provided explanations about the conference and said it was not anti-Iran,” local Iranian media reported.

The choice of Warsaw as the location for the summit shocked many in Iran. Poland was regarded as a friendly country, but Iranian-Polish relations have been deteriorating for the past two years.

The relationship took a big turn for the worse in 2017 with the departure of long-time Polish ambassador to Tehran Juliusz Gojlo. According to diplomatic circles in the Iranian capital, he allegedly became linked to an espionage affair involving people under investigation in Iran’s cultural sector. Neither Poland nor Iran have ever publicly explained the ambassador’s abrupt departure. He is yet to be replaced.

Among the Polish-Iranian trade that has been disrupted by US sanctions are oil imports. Poland’s oil and petrochemicals group PKN Orlen last year began taking shipments of Iranian oil but these have come to an end since Washington warned those who continue to do business with Iran could be penalised by the US Treasury.