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EUROPEAN UNION

EU to consider sanctions on Iran for failed attack plots in France, Denmark

EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to examine possible sanctions against Iran over two foiled attacks in Europe blamed on Iranian intelligence, as demands grow for tough action against Tehran.

EU to consider sanctions on Iran for failed attack plots in France, Denmark
An attempt to assassinate a resident of Denmark, linked to an Iranian intelligence operation, was behind a large-scale police action in September. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

France has hit two suspected Iranian agents with asset freezes over a plot to bomb a rally near Paris, while Denmark has called for a coordinated EU response to a foiled murder bid on its soil.

The move came as 150 MEPs slammed the bloc's “silence” over the plots as well as human rights abuse in Iran and called for steps to hold Tehran to account.

Up to now the EU has trod cautiously on Iran as it seeks to save the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran, after the US withdrew from it earlier this year and reimposed sanctions.

Copenhagen has been consulting EU partners about economic sanctions against Tehran after Danish intelligence accused Iran of planning to murder three Iranian dissidents in Denmark.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels discussed the incident and decided to press ahead with work on sanctions.

“What happened (in Denmark) was completely unacceptable and this was clearly stated by all of us,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters.

“The council will take forward some work to explore appropriate targeted responses in light of what has happened in Danish territory.”

The measures could include adopting at EU level the sanctions France imposed last month on two suspected Iranian agents and others from Iran's ministry of intelligence and security.

France's security services concluded that the head of operations at the Iranian intelligence ministry had ordered a plot to bomb a rally of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group in a suburb of Paris in June.

Iran has been blamed in the past for attacks in countries as far afield as Argentina, India and Thailand, and French officials say Tehran is also suspected of carrying out “several” assassinations of opposition figures in Europe since 2015.

READ ALSO: Trio arrested in Denmark for praising Iran parade attack

IMMIGRATION

Denmark to cut wait for family reunion after losing European court case

Denmark is to reduce the amount of time refugees need to wait before apply for family reunification after The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the current "three-year rule" was excessive.

Syrian refugees protest outside Denmark's parliament against Denmark's decision that the area around Damascus is now 'safe'.
Syrian refugees protest outside Denmark's parliament against Denmark's decision that the area around Damascus is now 'safe'. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

In a press release issued on Friday, the country’s immigration ministry said that it would next year submit a bill amending the country’s immigration law, or udlændingeloven to reduce the length of time refugees need to wait before applying for family reunion from three years to two.

But the new law will also contain a clause allowing Denmark to bring back the “three-year rule” at short notice if there is a refugee crisis.

“I of course regret that the verdict went against Denmark,” Mattias Tesfaye, Denmark’s immigration minister, said in statement, adding that he was nonetheless “relieved” that the court had deemed a two-year wait acceptable, and had also left open the possibility of longer waits during periods of extremely high refugee numbers.

“We are working hard to keep our refugee numbers at a record low, but if we today have a situation similar to 2015, we want to be able to lift the limit from two to three years. That is a good tool to have in our toolbox.”

The so-called MA case was brought by the Syrian doctor Mosalam Albaroudi, who arrived in Denmark in 2015 and then five months later applied for family reunification with his wife and was rejected.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on July 9th that the reason for the rejection of his reunification visa was a violation of human rights.

The case concerns a controversial change to Denmark’s laws in 2016, when Denmark’s Parliament (Folketing) passed the so-called “three-year rule” that required refugees to wait three years before applying for family reunification.

That’s why Albaroudi’s application was denied a residence permit for his wife. The decision was upheld by Denmark’s Supreme Court in 2017.

Albaroudi and his lawyer, Christian Dahlager, believed the decision violated the European Convention on Human Rights, and so they continued their efforts to overturn the ruling.

The Convention states that everyone has the right to privacy and family life, and that an authority can restrict this right only if it is necessary in a democratic society to protect a number of essential interests of society. It applies to members of the Council of Europe, to which Denmark belongs.

In its decision, the European Court of Human Rights stated that Denmark’s three-year waiting period has not “struck a reasonable balance between, on the one hand, the applicant’s interest in being reunited with his wife in Denmark and, on the other hand, society’s interest as a whole in being able to control immigration in order to protect the country’s economic well being, to ensure effective integration and to maintain the cohesion of society.”

Sixteen judges voted in favor of Albaroudi, and one judge abstained. The court also awarded Albaroudi compensation of 75,000 kroner.

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