In a sermon delivered at Friday prayers in Tehran, Iranian President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said the Mykonos trial outcome in Germany was timed to coincide with a US announcement that the Middle East peace talks had reached stalemate. Rafsanjani said the verdict had been politically prejudiced but the West was mistaken if it thought Iran could be intimidated by such measures. He said Iran was now strong economically and European countries were only damaging their own business interests. The following is an excerpt from a recording of Rafsanjani's sermon, broadcast by Iranian radio on 11th April; subheadings inserted editorially:
.. Since yesterday you will have all heard about the court case in Berlin, in Germany. It is a disgraceful incident for the West, especially the Germans. It is an issue that should really be analysed. I wish we were not one side of the issue and that I could analyse this political scandal from a neutral position so that it [the analysis] could be fair. In any case, since we are one side of the case, some people may doubt our word, but the evidence is so clear and strong that I think it would convince the most intransigent of people.
When they decided to announce the outcome of their two-year deceit [over the Arab-Israel peace process], they knew that a strong wave of criticism would engulf the Western media. That was obvious. They needed some form of event with which to replace it to keep the Western media and observers around the world busy. Whether we assume that it was by accident or that they had planned it in advance, they needed that wave [of propaganda] and we should expect them to keep up that hue and cry for many days in the West. But they will not benefit from it. It is like thunder and lightning; once the clouds disappear they show clear skies to the people.
Therefore, you should seek a serious meaning behind the incident and in this coordinated effort. That is, an issue has to be raised by the Western media, in order to lessen somewhat the poison of the defeat suffered by America, Britain and all those who had staked their honour and gambled on the issue. This was the political aspect of the issue, which is important in terms of timing.
The most important thing was the disgrace for the Western and European judiciary. Their judgment was really political. The action of the court was like that of a propaganda agency. It has been going on for three or four years. It has acted just like an advertising agency which signs a contract, takes a project, takes money and draws up a project. Those of us who are in the midst of it all understand it very well.
There are many such courts in Europe. In the past few years, dozens of people have been taken to court for various violations, for terrorism - Germans themselves - for the sale of chemical weapons to Iraq, for illegal export of arms, for taking bribes and payment of bribes - in Britain, in America, in Germany. Some of them have received judgment, some of the cases are under way and we have taken these judgments and we are studying them in our own courts. Many people in the world did not even know what was going on, [but] there has never been a similar case. This was a propaganda campaign in the guise of a court case. We really have to call this court an advertising agency.
The next point was that the outcome of the court was obvious. We have heard it over and over again from German officials and other officials, from the British and others. We heard an identical version of the judgment, that several people would be condemned and that in the explanation of the judgment they would say that this concerned the official figures of Iran, but that they would not include this in the judgment itself.
Even some of their middlemen came to make a deal. They sent messages about a give and take. The issues are clear. It is a scandal for a court to be a direct agent of political forces, particularly unrighteous forces. There is no doubt that this German decision will not easily find honour among impartial observers. I really think that this is not an ordinary case limited to one judge.
It would not have been important if it was only a judge making a mistake. But this [matter] has been a subject of judgment for several years.
It is not a case of one judge. It is the case of a country, it is the case of a system - everyone is concerned. Sometimes there is a closed or an open case where the judge makes a judgment after his deliberation and he might misjudge the situation. Well, this is not important. There are many such cases. But this is a historical disgrace for the German judiciary. All the claims that they made about the independence of their judicial establishment are now under question.
Not only are they not independent of their own governments, but they are also not independent of foreigners. Undoubtedly American and Israeli agents have had a hand in the matter - maybe in the guise of domestic political parties or groups - but it is rather optimistic to say that it was internal; without doubt it came from abroad. Those who were proposing deals - saying, for example, if you [Iran] come and help to clarify the fate of that pilot, Ron Arad, we will help you - were not German, they came from other places. This scandal is important for the Germans, for judging Europeans and Westerners.
Another very important issue is that the German government was not able to safeguard its own interests. We have not seen any German statesman in recent years who did not say that the trial was not harmful to Germany. Some of them said a judge is determining the policy of the country. They were very angry. It is really a disgrace for a government not to be able to control an issue which is stabbing its policy in the back.
It is a historical event in the world. Germany is not a small country; it is one of the pillars of the West. After that disgraceful judgment the Germans know what they stand to lose in Iran and in the Muslim world. For more than a hundred years there have been the closest and friendliest ties between the Iranian and German peoples. Read history on the First World War. The biggest accusation levelled against Iran then was that it was friends with the Germans and gave sanctuary to them. When the Germans came under pressure, Iran was one of the most important havens for fugitive and refugee and wretched Germans, who came and started a new life here.
With such a baseless judgment, a government - under pressure from others, if it has not made a mistake by itself - has been forced to destroy a hundred-year-old shining, historical friendship with a country like Iran, which is at the heart of today's world and, as they know, plays an important role in the Persian Gulf, in the Caspian Sea, in the East and in the West.
It was they who said it was you [Iran] who did not let the Middle East compromise deal go ahead; if they are telling the truth they believe our views carry so much weight. [Because they have done that] for a long time our nation will not be able to forget that dastardly act of the Germans, under these circumstances, in the name of the court, in the name of human rights and in the name of defending justice, to lose or weaken their friendship with an ancient nation, a great and advancing revolution, an important economic centre of the East. It may be an exaggeration to say lose it, but in any case, they have put a question mark on it.
Even if their judge had committed the same mistake and had passed judgment without such propaganda, we would not have had this situation.
But they gathered a large crowd of counter-revolutionaries from throughout Europe and took them to the court where they demonstrated, in order to be filmed for broadcasting. Are these also the responsibility of the judge? For this to happen, you need the cooperation of the police, the security [services] and everyone.
It seems that the German government - because of the weakness and vulnerability that it has among its supporters, in view of the next elections and because of the very dangerous presence of American and Zionist media in Germany and because of the pressure they bring on statesmen and threaten their votes - it seems that, for these reasons, the German government has overlooked the fundamental and proper interests of its people and the farsightedness that is of importance for governments which have popular roots, which are close to their people and which are not worried about the fluctuations in voting. It seems that this did not exist in the German government, [but] we did not want this to happen as it did.
Another issue that is important for you and us is the fact that they are committing past mistakes. Which of the things that you did against us was successful, so that now you want to begin another one? Did they not all recall their ambassadors in the case of Salman Rushdie but later apologized humbly and return? How did they benefit? They owe us something here. Take the United States. Today, or yesterday, was the anniversary of the severing of relations between us and the United States. What have they gained since they broke off their relations with us? Today all the important American experts say that the USA has been at a loss throughout the period, because it has created a void in favour of its rivals, because it has lost its foothold in Iran and because it has lost an honourable and great nation such as Iran which enjoys the support of millions of serious and committed supporters. [Public chants of God is Great].
Thank you. Today is quite different from eight years ago, seven years ago, when the Salman Rushdie incident occurred and the European ambassadors fled. Then Iran was in the post-war period, our coffers were empty, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel. There was all that devastation and all those problems in our country. There was no water, no electricity, no roads, no railways; the warehouses were empty and much more. The [present] industries didn't exist; these issues didn't exist [as heard].
What happened? They [the ambassadors] went away and returned again with humility.
Today the situation in Iran is not like that. Since last year, when the Americans announced their new sanctions, Iran has every day turned over a bright new page of construction, progress and excellence. Essentially no-one even notices whether they [the Americans] exist or not. This is like the story of a sparrow who was sitting on a big tree. When it wanted to fly off, it said to the tree: Hold on, I want to fly.
The tree replied: When you perched I didn't notice, now that you want to take off, get on with it. What will happen? They need Iran, for sure.
Whoever has interests in the Persian Gulf and has no friendly relations with Iran, his interests will always be vulnerable. Whoever has any interests in the Caspian Sea cannot live well without Iran. And [the same goes for] other nations, we are not on our own here. We understand that the ill-omened Berlin court has broken millions of hearts and these broken hearts will respond, they will not ignore such issues so easily. The Germans have sustained a substantial loss and no-one can do anything [about that] - neither America, nor Germany, nor anyone in Iran.
Rest assured Iran is very strong today. You have seen for yourselves that during the year-long American sanctions - which exerted much pressure - we managed to implement our projects as well as control our inflation. At the moment our country notices no shortcomings anywhere.
Essentially, it is in a condition in which no-one can make any disruptions in the country. Today, those who seek to hoard would be the losers themselves. Altogether, the situation is such that no - one can disrupt.
If someone seeks to hoard, he will be the sole loser; if someone seeks to shirk his responsibilities, he will be the only loser. There is a strong, coordinated system in all the cultural, educational, economic, agricultural, industrial, marine and transport arenas. Even our technical tasks are not reliant on Europe as before. Essentially this could be a historic mistake by Europe. That is to say, this step may result in the Asians thinking: Let's not have these weak, breaking ties with Europe either. Let everything take shape within Asia itself.
Today, resources in Asia are so strong, so extensive and Iran is one of [its] big components. Iran, within itself, is strong in most fields. Where it relies on outside [sources], it can find everything [it needs] outside Europe. What they are doing and saying is like the coquettish behaviour of a sixty-year-old bride trying to gain a particular position.
Anyway, we see this as a great mistake. It may be that it creates a certain amount of diversion as well. Our nation has demonstrated this. One of the benefits of such unwise approaches is that our nation becomes vigilant once more, when it wants to reduce the danger of the enemies. It strengthens unity and cohesion and the people come to think: We still must be ready, still must be vigilant, we must show them, they must be made to understand, so that they do not think that any criticism or debate means that the solidarity of the Iranian nation has been marred. Whenever there has been a need, our nation has demonstrated that it is not prepared to take sides with any aggressor.
[Crowd chants: God is Great; Khamene'i is the leader; death to the counter-revolutionary; death to America; death to Israel; we are all brothers, followers of the leader's line.]
It is so; you have proved that time and again and the whole world knows that you are brethren as well as followers of the Velayat-e Faqih [Guardianship of the Jurisconsult]. If among ourselves we stay vigilant, Muslims, committed, pious and just and do not allow the leprosy of corruption to pollute this assured Islamic community from within, then no-one will be able to harm this powerful community from outside...
(c) BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts. SOURCES BBC MONITORING SERVICE
BBC MONITORING SERVICE: MIDDLE EAST 14/4/97