Saturday, June 22, 2024

EU chief criticised for offering ‘sincere condolences’ to Iran

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His coalition partner Caroline van der Plas, the leader of the Dutch farmers party, posted a corrected version of Mr Michel’s tweet. It offered condolences to the “relatives of Iranians massacred by the regime” and to “all relatives of victims of terrorist attacks financed by Iran”.

Janez Janša, the former prime minister of Slovenia, posted: “Sorry, Charles Michel. Not in my name.”

“Oh boy, European condolences for the death of a butcher and cruel mass murderer,” said Theo Francken, an MP for the conservative New Flemish Alliance in Belgium, before mentioning Iran’s “kidnapping” of EU citizens.

“Not in my name,” said Charlie Weimars, a MEP for the Sweden Democrats, which is propping up the coalition government in Stockholm, after Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat offered “condolences” after Mr Michel’s message.

Pro-EU politicians were just as appalled. Nathalie Loiseau, a former Europe minister and close ally of Emmanuel Macron, said: “It is the Iranian people that I think of, that we should all think of.

“To women whose freedom is repressed, to artists, to journalists, to persecuted human rights activists, to our compatriots who are state hostages.”

“The message from the president of the European Council is his own,” added Ms Loiseau, who is an MEP and member of the same European liberal party as Mr Michel.

“I want all the people in Iran to know that Charles Michel is speaking here as a private person not as European Council president and for sure not on behalf of Europeans,” said Hannah Neumann, a German Green MEP.

“How about ensuring human rights defenders and other victims of this regime in need of assistance get emergency visas for the EU?,” she added.

Mr Michel’s gaffe followed another misstep by a senior EU politician before Raisi’s death was confirmed.

Janez Lenarčič, the EU’s crisis commissioner, said the bloc was using its Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service to track down his missing helicopter.

But his use of the hashtag “#EUSolidarity” sparked anger.

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