By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/R
The Polish foreign minister was in Iran to explore business opportunities in the country.
WASHINGTON -- Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski expressed shock after seeing Iranian media censorship at work during his recent trip to Tehran, and bewilderment after discovering his critical message was not aired on Iranian television.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on March 1, Sikorski publicly put his counterpart on the spot.
"I would also like to add that I mentioned to the minister that yesterday from Isfahan I tried to log onto a website of a major Polish newspaper and, unfortunately, I could not do it. I was told that the website was blocked by censorship. For us, coming from a country that fought for freedom of speech, this came as a shock," Sikorski said.
The Polish foreign minister went on to say that he also stressed to Zarif the need for human-rights dialogue, and underscored that the world has taken note of the recent rise in executions in the Islamic republic.
A video later released by the Polish Foreign Ministry puts Sikorski's comments on the record for all to see, but Iran's tightly controlled media left his criticisms on the cutting floor.
Iran's English-language Press TV coverage of the press conference focused on the two ministers' efforts to expand bilateral relations, highlighting Zarif's work to set the stage for Polish companies to operate in Iran.
Press TV noted that Sikorski had said that Iran was "an important country for Poland," according to the commentator, and "voiced his country's interest in improving cooperation with Tehran, especially in the fields of medicine and the food industry."
The Iranian Students News Agency led with Sikorski "pledging to persuade the international community about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear work," according to its interpretation of the foreign minister's wording, and "expressing hope that hostilities on the country's nuclear issue would be ended."
Isfahan provincial television went with the expansion of ties in the spheres of culture, economy, and tourism, while showing Sikorski visiting historical sites in the central province.
On March 6, the Polish foreign minister took to Twitter to fill in the gaps left by Iranian media.
There was at least one exception that Sikorski may not be aware of. In anarticle published on the Iranian Students News Agency's website on March 1, the wire service led with Sikorski "pledging to persuade the international community about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear work," according to its interpretation of the foreign minister's wording, and "expressing hope that hostilities on the country's nuclear issue would be ended."
But ISNA did note the Polish foreign minister's comments regarding media censorship and human rights, albeit in the last paragraph and lacking his expressed concern over the "rise" in executions.
Sikorski -- the first Polish Foreign Minister to visit Iran in 10 years -- arrived in Tehran on February 28 for a three-day visit. Because of the escalating crisis in Ukraine, he cut short his visit and returned to Warsaw on March 1.
With a delegation of 20 Polish business leaders, Sikorski's entourage was exploring business opportunities that could become available if Iran reaches a permanent agreement with world powers on its nuclear program.
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