Last week, at the special summit on Corona aid and EU financial planning, there was a lot of talk about European solidarity – which, however, already crumbled with the multiannual financial framework package. Solidarity is even worse when it comes to supporting so-called third countries that are severely affected by Covid-19.
Because it is sorted neatly, depending on political popularity. EUR 15.6 billion is available from the European Development Fund, with a larger part being granted through loans. 3.25 billion will be or have been given to several African countries (including 2.06 billion to sub-Saharan Africa, 1.19 billion to North African countries), 2.1 billion euros to southern EU partner countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya), 111 million to overseas countries, 962 million to eastern partner countries (Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), 800 million to the Western Balkans and a few more millions to Caribbean and Latin American countries.
The country most severely affected by corona in the Middle East is left empty-handed – Iran. Just the three countries involved in the so-called Instex instrument, which is intended to promote trade with Iran (Great Britain, France and Germany), have agreed to give a measly five million euros for relief supplies via the WHO or other UN organizations as urgent help to fight the corona pandemic. A ridiculous amount. The EU itself is keeping out of it because it fears extra-territorial US sanctions.
According to official statements, 150 people die every day in Iran as a result of Covid-19. The mortality rate among the country’s health workers is almost double that of the world average, indicating that the Iranian health sector is under immense pressure. So far, more than 9,000 Iranian nurses have been infected with the virus. The Iranian medical sector is under great strain. Expressed in numbers, this means that by July 14, 262,173 people had been officially diagnosed and 13,211 people had died. That is about half of those affected in the entire region.
The sanctions imposed by President Trump criminalize any company that wants to trade with Iran. These sanctions, which hit Iranian trade cold, have devastating effects even without Covid-19, because important medical products, such as cancer drugs, are hardly imported anymore.
Iran is now practically left alone with regard to specific equipment to combat corona, hospitals in particular are being dramatically affected. The situation in eleven provinces is worrying, hunger and impoverishment are rising rapidly. In addition, other goods, especially food, no longer come into the country. The country is in fact “starved” by the way of the US administration’s sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. In October 2019, the US was already asked in the Human Rights Watch report “Maximum Pressure: US Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians Right to Health” to withdraw these sanctions because the US would violate international law. According to this, they are obliged to examine the effects of sanctions on human rights and to remedy any impairments.
It’s a shame that the EU is failing vital aid in the hour of need! That doesn’t just put an end to their statements about human rights. This also misses the opportunity to become a progressive factor in conflict resolution in the Middle East. It has to be done with submissive cuddling in front of the USA, the transatlantic relationship has to be brought to eye level. The EU must finally struggle for strategic autonomy if we don’t want to become a game ball of whatever great power. Postponing the Iranians, hiding from US interests, which even harm us Europeans, destroys the former role model of the EU. Not a step further!