PARIS – France criticized Iranian authorities on Sunday for their “somewhat brutal reaction” to the street protests in Tehran over the country’s presidential election, and the European Union expressed concern about how the ballot was conducted.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said his French government believes the situation in Iran “could leave lasting scars” on the nation. Protests flared amid allegations of voter fraud following the announcement Saturday that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected to a second term.
“We are very worried because there was a dialogue that was opening” within Iran, Kouchner told reporters following a meeting in Paris with the U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell. “France regrets that following (this) opening, there was a somewhat brutal reaction.”
In a statement late Saturday, the EU said it was “concerned about alleged irregularities” during Friday’s vote and the postelection violence that erupted after the release of results, which are disputed by Ahmadinejad’s reformist rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The 27-member bloc said it hopes the outcome of the election will ease tensions between Iran and the international community over Iran’s contested nuclear program.
In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the “course of the election in Iran raises many questions,” and he called for “authorities in Tehran to carefully look into these accusations too in an effort provide a full explanation.”
He also criticized the Iranian police response to the protests.
“Security services’ violent actions against demonstrators is not acceptable, nor is preventing peaceful protest,” Steinmeier said in a statement.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he was carefully following with the situation in Iran. In a statement Sunday, he urged Tehran to take steps to “ensure that the result of the election fully reflected the will of the Iranian people” and expressed hope that the “situation will not lead to further violence.”
In the Netherlands, about 100 people protested the election result Sunday outside the Iranian Embassy in The Hague, with some brandishing signs reading “Where is my vote?”
On Saturday, about 200 people protested outside the Iranian Embassy in London and 100 demonstrated in Paris in front of the Maison de la Radio, a large complex in Paris where French public radio stations operate.
At the London protest, Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, denounced the results as “a Tehran Tiananmen” – a reference to China’s brutal 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists – and urged the international community not to recognize the vote.
Associated Press writers across Europe contributed to this report.