The Austrian President had said that Iran had cancelled the trip planned for March 30th and 31st due to security concerns, although the Interior Ministry has since said there were “no signs of a threat”.
Reports in Iranian media suggested that President Hassan Rouhani’s trip had been postponed until better conditions could be created.
It has since emerged that Iran had tried to insist Austria ban an anti-Iranian regime demonstration that had been due to take place on Wednesday, according to Austria’s Die Presse newspaper, citing diplomatic sources.
The protest had been organised by the Human Rights Centre for Victims of Fundamentalism, in support of several Iran opposition groups.
Speaking to The Local, Shahin Gobadi from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said the planned protest could be one of several reasons for the cancellation.
“It could be the result of the concern that the trip heightened the international contempt of the regime’s conduct,” he said.
“Our planned demonstration could have had that effect. Another reason could be factional infighting in Iran. There was also the fact that Austria’s President had said in an interview before the trip that Tehran cannot expect sanctions to be lifted straight away.”
He added that although the NCRI welcomes the postponement of the trip, they believe the right approach would be to call it off permanently.
“It only emboldens the regime with its deplorable policies on issues such as human rights and its support of the Assad-led Syrian regime,” he said.
In a statement, NCRI says Rouhani’s record as President includes more than 2,300 executions which he describes as “divine orders”, as well as the export of terrorism and fundamentalism to the region.
Gobadi says that any improvement to Austria’s relationship with Iran must include public conversations about these issues.
“We would prefer it to be called off but for any other trips of this nature, the receiving government should put these issues to the public beforehand. The human rights problems, the executions, the support of the Syrian regime, these [matters] have to be addressed publicly,” he said.