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Commissioner’s offering of EU ‘solidarity’ with Iran creates storm

by editor

The European commissioner for crisis management has insisted he was not offering “political support” to the Iranian regime after ending a post confirming the provision of satellite assistance to Iranian rescuers with “#EUSolidarity.”

The rescuers were responding to reports Sunday that a helicopter, carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and other top Iranian officials, had crashed near the border in a densely wooded, mountainous region near the border with Azerbaijan. Raisi, president of Iran since 2021 and considered a potential successor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was confirmed dead Monday morning.

As countries in Iran’s neighborhood lined up to offer assistance locating the crash site, Lenarčič had announced on X that the EU was activating its Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service to help find the downed helicopter. He ended his tweet with the tag #EUSolidarity — prompting an immediate backlash.

Dozens of accounts slammed the post, pointing to Raisi’s prominent role in the regime which has executed thousands of Iranians, the country’s sponsorship of terror, the use of Shahed drones to terrorize Ukrainian civilians and Tehran’s detention of Swedish EU official Johan Floderus.

A Commission official, granted anonymity to speak freely, noted Sunday that the tweet was consistent with the EU’s guidelines on humanitarian aid, but said they personally found the expression of solidarity “odd.”

Lenarčič’s post was reshared by the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, but not by the European Commission’s account or by Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen, who as of Monday morning hadn’t commented on the reports.


“I am sad that Masha Amini and so many women and their supporters were killed by the Iranian regime,” said Flemish MEP Assita Kanko, vice chair of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformers group, on X early Monday.

“I am shocked that [Lenarčič] posted a message on behalf of the EU proposing to activate EU solidarity to save the Iranian president,” Kanko said. “European solidarity? With whom. And with whose money?”

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, one of the liberals’ lead candidates for June’s European election, wrote: “It is an absolute mystery to me how the EU Commission can show #EU solidarity with Iran. What a miserable hashtag, what a mockery of the brave fighters for human rights in Iran. I expect an explanation for this.”

“How about ensuring Human Rights Defenders and other victims of the regime in need of assistance get emergency visas for the EU?” Hannah Neumann, a German Green MEP, asked.

Lenarčič has clarified that the wording was not an endorsement of the Iranian regime’s politics.

“The provision of a @CopernicusEMS satellite mapping upon request for facilitating a search and rescue operation is not an act of political support to any regime or establishment,” Janez Lenarčič said on X on Monday. “It is simply an expression of the most basic humanity.”

In response to a tweet condemning Lenarčič’s “interesting” phrasing, Commission spokesperson Balazs Ujvari wrote: “Neither the EU Civil Protection Mechanism nor the Copernicus satellite system are driven by political considerations. Any country can request assistance of humanitarian or civilian nature through these channels, and the [Commission] does its best to help.”

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