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The EU's crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarčič posted the statement to his personal Twitter account. Alamy Stock Photo
twitter diplomacy

The hashtag that started a diplomatic row within the EU over Iran air crash

Iran-EU have been essentially eradicated since the Russian invasion of Ukaine.

SLOVENIA’S EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER has defended a post on X which announced the EU’s decision to assist with Iranian officials after a helicopter crash which killed the country’s President and eight others yesterday.

Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid and crisis management, announced yesterday that the EU’s emergency response systems would assist Iranian response teams in the mountainous region of the crash.

A hashtag, included at the end of the announcement on X, formerly Twitter, read #EUSolidarity, started an internal spat among MEPs, the Commission and election candidates across the bloc.

Iran-EU relations were essentially eradicated after the Middle-Eastern country was sanctioned by the bloc when it was revealed it was supplying drones to Russia which were later used in Ukraine.

Last month, MEPs called for more sanctions to be placed on Iran after condemning the country and its retaliatory attack on Israel.

The insinuation that the EU would show solidarity with Iran has not sat well with European parliamentarians and other European leaders, despite the EU’s press officer and other Commissioners since making similar statements.

Belgian MEP Assita Kanko, a member of the Greens group, said she was “shocked” by the hashtag in Lenarčič’s statement.

Kanko said that the Slovenian commissioner should’ve been reminded that the Parliament had previously commended Iranian protester and women’s rights campaigner Jina Mahsa Amini and other protesters for standing up to the regime in Iran.

She added: “The people in Iran are literally and figuratively strangled by the regime. European solidarity? With whom. And with whose money?”

Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, member of the right-wing, populist European group the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), called the statement from Lenarčič “shameful”.

Weimers claimed that European-funded assistance should not be used to aid Tehran’s political regime. Vice President of the ECR group, Dutch MEP Rob Roos made a similar argument.

Dutch far-right party leader Geert Wilders also denounced the statement, claiming EU had created solidarity with “evil”.

Lenarčič has since defended his choice to include the hashtag, saying his choice of hashtag was “not an act of political support to any regime or establishment“.

“It is simply an expression of the most basic humanity,” Lenarčič added.

An official press release from the EU was published today which offered its “condolences” to Iran on the death of their president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian and seven other Iranian officials involved in the fatal crash.

Though not making reference to EU solidarity, some have equally criticised the statement, which was shared by other Commissioners and the President of the European Council.

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