Two of Europe’s major powers are trying to build support for a strong statement of condemnation against Iran’s government  during the G8’s July 8-10 summit in L’Aquila.

Deutsche Welle gives few details in a report titled “Germany presses G8 to take common stance on Iran.”


German Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed hope that leading industrialized nations and Russia would present a united front on Iran at a three-day G8 meeting in Italy which opened on Thursday.

Reactions to Iran’s post-election violence have taken over the agenda of the talks that are intended to prepare the ground for the G8 summit taking place in the Italian city of L’Aquila on July 8-10.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the meeting in Trieste that he expected participants to take a common line on the violence in Iran.

The European Council has urged the government in Tehran to carry out an “independent and credible” investigation of the Iranian election.

The vast bulk of that piece is the work to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan; but the Iran issue grabbed he headline.   Similarly, a very brief Reuters story (“Italy aims for G8 condemnation of Iran violence“) reports,

Italy, hosting a meeting of G8 foreign ministers, said on Thursday it was working on a joint declaration condemning post-election violence in Iran.

“We are working on a document that should condemn the violence and the repression and at the same time stress that electoral procedures are an (internal) Iranian matter,” said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. “We (the international community) can’t recount the vote.”

Interestingly, Frattini had invited the Iranians to attend the AfPak talks but was rebuffed.

Press Trust of India (“Iran overshadows G8 Trieste meeting“) notes that there is widespread consensus that a statement must be issued but some difference on what to say:

The United States is pushing for a common stance on Iran at the meeting that formally begins with a working dinner of the G8 ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other EU officials will be joining the opening meeting held at the Palazzo della Regione in the city overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

“It would be impossible not to discuss current events at this meeting and just stick to broader nuclear agendas, as if nothing had changed,” a US official said ahead of the talks. “This will be an opportunity for foreign ministers… To compare notes on what’s happening in Iran and to then perhaps think about how that might affect our long-term strategy that was initially the agenda,” he added.

Reaching consensus on Iran however is shaping up as a delicate diplomatic exercise, with Frattini pointedly noting that “the door between West and Iran must not be closed shut.” Among G8 members, Russia has refused to condemn Iran, saying the election turmoil was an internal matter while calling for a peaceful resolution.

Frattini contends that Russia “won’t have difficulties in supporting a common position” despite its previous statements.  Presumably, though, that’s because the final statement will be sufficiently toothless as to not offend anyone’s sensibilities. AP’s Alessandro Rizzo (“Iran expected to dominate G8 meeting in Italy“):

Though several of the G8’s European members have expressed concern about the postelection violence and urged a recount, it was unclear how strong a condemnation would emerge from the three-day meeting in Trieste.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the violence against protesters Tuesday and lent his strongest support yet to their accusations the hardline victory was a fraud. But the United States does not want to become a scapegoat for Iran’s cleric-led government.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow, which hosted Ahmadinejad at a regional summit a few days after the election, so far had seen no legal violations in Iran’s crackdown. “At the same, we are calling not to take any actions … that would allow violence and jeopardize people’s lives,” Lavrov told a news conference in Bern, Switzerland, after meeting with his Swiss counterpart, according to Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies.

All indications are that the former Cold War rivals will team up to weaken the statement of support for the rule of law and the sanctity of elections.  That’s rather surreal.  It is, however, the nature of consensus-driven organizations to settle for the position of the least enthusiastic member.

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.

Related Experts: James Joyner