NCRI, 29 June 2010 – Addressing the gathering of Iranians in Paris on June 26, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar noted the Iranian people’s uprising over the past year and said that the Iranian people want regime change and they have shown this in their protests despite the repression. The following are excerpts from his speech:
I am very glad to be here with all of you participating in this magnificent and very impressive meeting today in Paris with my Iranian friends who are fighting for freedom and democracy in their country. I support you. Thank you very much for your invitation.
The Iranian people deserve a government that is not based on brutal repression. They deserve a government that respects people’s dignity and ensures their freedom and prosperity. The Iranian people deserve a different government. They need and deserve a change of regime in Iran.
Iranians are a great people. Over 30 years ago, Iran took a course that could not have been more catastrophic for its people, the region and the world. With the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini [in 1979], the Islamic Republic of Iran became a brutalizing force within and a destabilizing one without. First, they wiped out values such as freedom, democracy and the dignity of each person, limits on power, equal opportunity, pluralism, criticism and dialogue, not to mention gender equality.
It needs to be said loud and clear that the Khomeini regime has been built on a mountain of Iranian blood. The problem is the nature of the current regime. On the outside, Iran became a revolutionary power whose exported fundamentalism to the world and the region as far as it could. And to that end, they did not hesitate to resort to terrorism or to create groups to defend their agenda wherever they deemed it necessary.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind still has any doubts about the true intentions of ayatollahs regarding their nuclear program. The ayatollahs want the bomb and unless the international community takes effective actions to frustrate their goals and efforts they will end up getting it.
We have spent several years of diplomatic negotiations trying to persuade Iran to put its program on hold to no avail. And a nuclear bomb in the hands of someone like Ahmadinejad is a real danger. With a constant challenge to the international community, the Ahmadinejad regime is not only a threat to the country but also to the rest of the region. A nuclear Iran will only bring greater instability and become a greater threat to Europe. A few days ago, the United Nations once again brought a resolution condemning Iran. It was the fourth in the last three years. As well, US and EU have approved new sanctions. I don’t know if each recommendation to members of the international community to intensify their pressure against the regime would bear the fruit that the previous resolutions were not able to provide. This will without a doubt turn up the heat on the Tehran regime and its more dangerous elements such as the Revolutionary Guards. However, sanctions are aiming to force the regime to begin serious negotiations over its nuclear program with an eye to get them to suspend it. The sanctions, therefore, are not designed to put an end to the regime which is what we truly need.
For me, stopping nuclear rise in Tehran is essential but not enough. We must bring a change of regime to Iran. The Iranian people have been showing that despite the repression this is what they want and in my view liberal democracies have an obligation to uphold freedom in those places where it does not exist and people seek it. Unfortunately, this has not been done during the last year and I perfectly understand many Iranians’ possible feeling of frustration or abandonment. Despite the sanctions approved recently, the greatest power in the world seems sometimes more focused on trying to keep its opponents happy than on helping the forces of freedom. And, we Europeans, despite as well the sanctions recently approved, continue to prefer giving priority to our short term business interests over the political ideals we should be defending around the world. … The Iranian people have suffered enough and they deserve something different, a better, secure life in freedom. Many have to look for this in places other than their homeland. Today’s very impressive meeting is a good example.
But, I do not want to end my address without remembering and giving some words of encouragement to all those who have not been able to find an environment like ours. I refer to all those refugees living in camps far from their homes and comforts, and in particular to those who are living today, and have lived for many years, in Camp Ashraf near Baghdad. Created in 1986, a symbol of tenacity, the over 3,000 people who live there are now subjected to harassment by the Iraqi authorities, certainly not because they want to but because they have succumbed to pressure from the ayatollahs’ regime. Therefore, let this be a call to the international community to put a stop to the policing that the Iranian regime wishes to inflict on its own people simply because they disagree with it. The future of Ashraf is tied to Iran and Iran’s future is tied to freedom, respect for the person, equality, and human dignity. The end of Khomeini’s regime is just around the corner. It’s our duty to ensure that that corner gets closer and closer every day. While I personally will always support my Iranian friends, dissidents, opposition activists, and people like you that fight for freedom and democracy in Iran.
Thank you very much and good luck.