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Greece Blocks EU Sanctions Against Iranian Bank

Nov. 3, 2015 (EIRNS)—Greece vetoed an attempt to keep the Iranian Bank Saderat on a European Union sanctions list, raising a good many eyebrows and provoking rage among certain Anglo-American and French circles. Bank Sederat, the largest bank in Iran, was put on a sanctions list for allegedly financing terrorist organizations. The bank had taken the issue to the European Court of Justice on the grounds that the EU presented insufficient proof, and last April won its case. Nonetheless, both the British and French, and the United States in the background, pushed to keep sanctions on the bank until 2023 despite the court decision, in yet another lawless move by the European Union. In a vote that took place last month, Greece was the only country of the EU’s 27 members to veto the proposal, despite pressure from the United States, the Unkted Kingdom, and France.

"There is an EU court decision and it should be respected," a senior Greek Foreign Ministry official told the Wall Street Journal.

"There were very firm instructions from Athens to block it," a second Greek official said.

The background to this is the Obama administration’s double-talk on Iran sanctions despite Iran having come to full agreement over its nuclear program. While the administration has publicly encouraged European banks to start working again with Iranian firms, it still has not lifted its own sanctions that restrict American companies from dealing with Iran. It has also cooked up other reasons, including alleged terror finance, to put Iranian firms and banks like Bank Saderat on sanction lists. The action has served to scare many European companies away from dealing with Iran.

For Greece, the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made a very significant effort to promote economic relations with Iran as part of its policy to increase ties to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and other members of the "survivors club." Last February Tsipras led a Greek delegation that included 50 representatives of some of Greece’s top companies.

At the end of September, as a follow-up to Tspiras’s visit to Iran, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) chief Valiollah Seif led a delegation to Athens, where he held talks with Greek Vice President Yannis Dragasakis, who is overseeing the reconstruction of Greece’s fragile banking system. High on the list of discussion was cooperation in the field of energy and banking and investments. Iran is an important energy supplier for Greece, while Greek shipping companies have also been large carriers of Iranian oil.