European heavyweights criticize Warsaw conference

Pompeo’s East Europe tour fails at once

February 13, 2019

TEHRAN – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s efforts to unify Eastern Europe against Russia, China and Iran failed at once when Budapest said it’s fed up with lectures about its foreign policy.

Speaking in Hungary, the first stop in a five-nation European tour, Pompeo said, “We must not let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin drive a wedge between friends in NATO.”

He claimed that the U.S. and its allies “know all too well from history” that “that Russia will never be a friend to the freedom and sovereignty of smaller nations,” Russia Today reported.

He also warned his Hungarian counterpart about the dangers of working with China, saying, “Beijing’s handshake comes with strings … that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically.”

Szijjarto criticized the U.S. government, saying “the world is not going to be a better place if some countries spend their time intervening in the internal political affairs of other countries.”

‘Enormous hypocrisy’ 

He insisted that Budapest can have transparent relations with Moscow and Beijing and the West, and said it was an “enormous hypocrisy” that Hungary is singled out for its ties with Moscow.

Pompeo is also due to visit Slovakia and Poland, and is set to complete his journey with stops in Brussels and Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, on February 15. 

In Warsaw, the U.S. and Poland are set to jointly host a conference on the Middle East that is expected to focus on Iran. The conference runs from February 13 to 14. 

On January 11, the U.S. secretary of state announced that Warsaw will host a conference that “includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence” in the region. 

Late Tuesday, a Twitter storm was launched by users from Iran and resistant countries against the Warsaw conference, using the hashtag #wecondemndpolandsummit.

In yet another blow to Pompeo’s anti-Iran agenda, it was confirmed on Monday that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will not attend the conference co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland in Warsaw.

“Foreign Minister Maas will not attend the Middle East conference in Warsaw,” a German diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency.

He said Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen will attend the conference instead.

‘Chaotic decisions’

Officials from three European countries of Germany, France and Britain have criticized the joint U.S.-Poland conference on the Middle East in Warsaw.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of them described it as “an unhelpful sideshow announced without any consultation or regard for America’s traditional partners”, The National reported on Tuesday.

“It’s a series of chaotic decisions being made at random,” said one European official based at the UN, referring to the Warsaw summit.

“The U.S. had one meeting with the Poles and decided that they’d hold a ministerial [gathering]. They didn’t ask anyone else if they would come. It’s a classic example of their lack of thinking things through.”

Another European diplomat said, “We disagree about this conference. It's not how things should be done.”

On January 13, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Polish charge d’affaires to Tehran Wojciech Unolt to protest Poland’s bid to co-host the anti-Iran conference.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has described the move as “shameful” in light of the fact that Iran saved Poles during World War II.

“Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus,” Zarif tweeted.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has also said that she will not attend the Warsaw conference.

NA/PA

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