16th Nov 2019

EU leaders urge Iran to halt violence

EU leaders on Friday (19 June) asked Iranian authorities to show restraint against protesters contesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The authorities should refrain from the use of force against peaceful demonstrations," the EU heads of state and government said in a statement. "[We] urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that all Iranians are granted the right to assemble and to express themselves peacefully."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Iranian demonstrators could face a brutal crackdown if they continue protests (Photo:

The softly-worded language avoided strong condemnation or siding with Mr Ahmadinejad's contender, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The protests have seen reports of up to 15 killings, accusations of election fraud, mass arrests and a crackdown on media freedoms. Over 100,000 demonstrators were seen on the streets of Tehran on Thursday, despite the heavy pressure.

Iranian supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday warned people to respect the outcome of the vote or be "held responsible for chaos," in a speech widely seen as a threat of further violence.

He blamed Great Britain, the US and Israel for trying to foment unrest, with crowds chanting "Death to the United States."

The UK reacted by summoning the Iranian ambassador to London to give an explanation. But Europe is wary of being accused of Western meddling.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was up to Iran "to show the world and its people that the elections have been fair and that the repression is not to be repeated."

German chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed her "disappointment" with the ayatollah's intervention.

German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier went slightly further. "I also think the speech did not meet the expectations of the international community and the hopes of the Iranian people," he said.

"We have great respect for the brave people in Iran, who took to the streets every day in the past week, fighting for their convictions and the right to have free elections. This fact alone changes a bit the image of Iran."

Meanwhile, Italy has defended its invitation of the Iranian foreign minister to attend a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised countries (G8) next week in Trieste.

The meeting is mainly aimed at securing regional support for the war in Afghanistan and the escalating violence in Pakistan, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi explained at a press conference on Friday.

"[The invitation] is in agreement with the US administration. We equally believe it is important to involve Iran in the stabilisation of Afghanistan," he said.

Asked if Germany welcomed the presence of the Iranian official at the G8 meeting, Mr Steinmeier said it would not help to retract the invitation.

"I think we must respect the US position in criticising strongly the reaction of Iranian authorities towards the demonstrators, but we must also realise that we won't solve these conflicts just by withdrawing our foreign policy activities," he said.

Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

A total of 48 MEPs from GUE/NGL, the Greens and the Socialists have demanded the EU to comply with the democracy clause of the EU-Chile agreement to ensure that Chile respects fundamental rights.

Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark

Bosnia requested an interview with the French ambassador to Sarajevo, after Emmanuel Macron described the country as a "ticking time bomb" and one of the greatest concerns for Europe due to the "problem of returning jihadists".

Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria

Between 700 and 750 children from different EU member states are trapped in camps in north-east Syria with parents who are suspected Islamic State fighters. Many are under the age of six, victims of war and conflict.

EU enlargement freeze prompts Serbia rethink

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said the Balkan region needs to take care of itself after the EU blocked enlargement talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election


These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us