Austria / Press
Monday, July 13, 2020

Friday, December 3rd 2010

Promotional campaign to boost business with Iran at seminar of Austrian Chamber of Commerce

Scandalous: Austrian Ministry of Economy assisting in continuation of Iran business

Contrary to public statements made by representatives of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO), the Chamber's seminar on Iran yesterday was openly used as a platform to promote the continuation and extension of trade with Iran. The participants were explained how to maintain excellent business ties with the Iranian regime despite the existing sanctions. According to seminar participants, the Chamber's Gerta Mlejnek and Helmut Krehlik of the Ministry of Economy gave the advice not to directly contact the Ministry of Economy about a new business partner in Iran. It would be sufficient to comply with the duty of care with regard to obtaining information about potential partners. Inquiries directed to Helmut Krehlik at the Ministry of Economy, however, could result in negative decisions due to the additional information available at the Ministry, and would therefore not be recommendable. This scandalous advice on how to continue business with Iran is not too surprising given Krehlik's "private" statement made on the issue of sanctions during the seminar, according to participants, whereupon he completely rejected them.

Michael Tockuss of the German-Iranian Trade Chamber did exactly what he had done before: Promoting business with Iran. For those who did not know about still existing channels for money transfer from Europe to Iran, Tockuss explained the few still legal options. Tockuss emphasized that large profits could still be made in Iran despite sanctions. He also enthusiastically referred to the growth of Germany's exports to Iran by 27% in September.

Simone Dinah Hartmann, spokesperson of STOP THE BOMB, criticizes the Chamber's justification efforts: "The whole event was anything but an effort to discourage business with Iran, while discouragement would be in the spirit of the sanctions. Instead, the seminar followed an offensive strategy of encouragement to increase trade with the Iranian regime. The Chamber of Commerce and the Austrian policy in general seem to focus on compliance with only a minimum of regulations in order to get the maximum of profits while trading with the Iranian regime. This sort of trade keeps the regime alive. If the Austrian government was serious about a consistent strategy against the regime, it would immediately close down the Austrian Trade Commission in Tehran, but not support such a seminar.

Apparently, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, headed by president Christoph Leitl, seems to stick to its policy of promoting business with Iran: A similar seminar was already announced for February 2011. STOP THE BOMB will be scandalizing promotional events for business with Iran also in the future on an international level. Yesterday, the coalition held a protest rally in front of the Chamber's head office and at its Viennese branch, where the seminar had been relocated due to the high number of interested companies.

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