Speeches - 2005
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Human rights in Russia - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2005
Russia remains the largest country in the world and because it is a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE it is under greater scrutiny and criticism by the EU in terms of fundamental democratic rights. It currently enjoys privileges, such as the PCA Agreement, a strategic partnership based on the Four Common Spaces Agreement, and eventual ENPI and EIB funding benefits.
Romania - Delivered in Plenary, 14th December 2005
I believe Romania remains on track for accession by 1 January 2007. However, the new government must continue reforming the judiciary, upholding media freedom, enabling property restitution, protecting minorities and children and fighting organised crime. Particular attention must also be paid to the reform of public administration and the fight against corruption, including delivery on the promise of indictments of high-level officials alleged to have committed serious offences.
Human rights in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - Delivered in Plenary, 30th November 2005
All three countries of former Indochina have been ravaged by war and now, sadly, they suffer from political oppression. Over the past several years, they have begun to integrate themselves into the global economic community. However, in Vietnam, for instance, citizens are still being persecuted for their religious beliefs and practices.
EU-India relations-A new Strategic Partnership - EICC-CBC-GOPIO Conference, 9th November 2005
One of my proudest achievements as a Member of the European Parliament was to co-found three years ago the informal Intergroup, Friends of India. Since then India has gone from strength to strength continuing to grow at 7.5% annually and is now a strategic partner with the EU, which I warmly welcome. India is now firmly on the path to self-sufficiency and a more open economy and the EU is keen to link into this.
Human rights in Western Sahara - Delivered in Plenary, 27th October 2005
1975 to 1991 was a period of bloody conflict in Western Sahara between Morocco and Polisario, ending with a UN-brokered ceasefire, which called for a referendum for independence, yet to happen I have to say, monitored by MINURSO. Seventy-six countries now recognise the Sahrawi Democratic Republic.
Situation in Azerbaijan before the elections - Delivered in Plenary, 26th October 2005
Last June I spoke in plenary in the human rights debate. The situation in Azerbaijan at the time was particularly serious, with allegations that the government was holding political prisoners and indeed that torture and ill-treatment in custody was common. This time I speak as the resolution’s co-author, as I am being sent to Baku by this Parliament as an official observer for the 6 November elections.
The Barcelona Process revisited - Delivered in Plenary, 26th October 2005
As rapporteur on the European Neighbourhood Policy, I believe it is clearly in our mutual interests to strengthen ties with our southern Mediterranean partners in North Africa and the Middle East, as formally set up in the Barcelona process 10 years ago on 28 November.
Iran - Delivered in Plenary, 12th October 2005
Iran remains a major headache for the EU and for our ally, the United States. There is the issue of Iran’s attempts over the last 20 years to master uranium enrichment technology in a covert fashion with aid from Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan and his nuclear technology bazaar.
Tunisia - Delivered in Plenary, 29th September 2005
Tunisia is an EU-Euromed Association partner country, which is almost unique in the Islamic world by its full commitment to building a modern secular society. This is to the point that it actually forbids polygamy; it bans the hijab in public places and has an established and protected Jewish community.
EU-India relations - Delivered in Plenary, 28th September 2005
One of my proudest achievements in this House was to co-found three years ago the informal intergroup, Friends of India. Since then India has gone from strength to strength and is now a strategic partner with the EU, which I warmly welcome.
Political prisoners in Syria - Delivered in Plenary, 8th September 2005
Syria remains under President Bashar al-Assad, the sole Baathist regime left in the Arab world following the demise of Iraqi Baathism. Since 1963, Syria has operated under a state of perpetual emergency, which is the legal basis for many of the repressive instruments imposed by the government.
Middle East Situation - Delivered in Plenary, 7th September 2005
The Middle East, as ever, remains of great concern. But there are also some grounds for optimism, as we witness the first multi-candidate presidential election in Egypt today. The ongoing terrorist campaign in Iraq, of course, still poses a serious threat to stability in the region.
Anniversary of Beslan massacre - Delivered in Plenary, 5th September 2005
Last week marked the first anniversary of the Beslan massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 331 people, of which 186 were children. Astonishingly, the self-confessed perpetrator of this crime, Shamil Basayev, was appointed deputy prime minister of the so-called Chechen government-in-exile on 25 August.
Hizbollah and al-Manar Television - Delivered in Plenary, July 6th 2005
I would like to thank you for your considered reply and also for the fact that the British Government has belatedly given consideration to banning Hizbollah’s so-called civilian wing, whereas in fact there is no difference between the civilian and the military wing.
Political Situation in Belarus - Delivered in Plenary, July 4th 2005
I have a long-standing interest in Belarus and I have never advocated completely cutting off contact with the Belarus authorities in areas of mutual concern such as people trafficking and trade matters. It is also true that current EU policies have not paid any dividends.
Programme of the British Presidency - Delivered in Plenary, June 23rd 2005
The EU is in crisis in terms of direction and legitimacy, and Mr Blair is now under challenge to fill the leadership vacuum, with Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder weakened domestically and probably on their way out.
Azerbaijan - Delivered in Plenary, June 9th 2005
Azerbaijan became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but has lost 16% of its previous territory in a short-lived war over the ethnic Armenian territory of Ngorno Karabakh with neighbouring Armenia and must now support some 570 000 internally-displaced persons.
Situation in Uzbekistan - Delivered in Plenary, June 8th 2005
Uzbekistan is the most populated and culturally the richest of the five central Asian post-Soviet newly independent states. Uzbekistan has no historic traditions of democracy or good governance, having been ruled in the distant past by Khanates, followed by Tsarists and Soviet Russia, only to find itself unexpectedly a sovereign state in 1991, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Inevitably the then existing Uzbek nomenclatura filled the power vacuum; hence the composition of the current regime.
Obesity - UEMO Conference in London, June 3rd 2005
It is an honour and privilege to be asked to make the introductory remarks to the opening of UEMO Pan-European Debate on Obesity held here in my Constituency of London. This vital debate merits the highest priority by health policy makers throughout Europe over the coming years.
EU Russia relations - Delivered in Plenary, May 26th 2005
EU-Russia relations are not at their most cordial at present, after a serious loss of face for Russia following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution six months ago. President Putin seriously overestimated his ability to impose his chosen candidate on the Ukrainian people, even if it meant rigging the election
Situation in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia - Delivered in Plenary, May 11th 2005
Kyrgyzstan is a small, central Asian Muslim republic of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions. Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864, but it achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It has recently been in the news, following the 27 February parliamentary elections, when election irregularities caused widespread protest, starting in the south of the country. The president was forced to flee, accused of corruption and stealing the election.
European External Action Service - Delivered in Plenary, May 11th 2005
The whole issue of a common Community diplomacy is one about which I and my national party have serious reservations. I cannot deny that the huge clout the Commission now wields from its aid activities and its monopoly on external trade brings with it an additional large international political and economic dimension as well.
Situation in Sudan - Delivered in Plenary, May 10th 2005
No sooner had Sudan emerged from 21 years of bloody civil war between the Islamist Government of Sudan and the Christian/Animist south, finally ended by the comprehensive peace agreement signed in Nairobi this January, than another appalling humanitarian situation emerged in Darfur in February 2003, whose importance internationally must be reinforced now that attention may be drifting away following the tsunami in South-East Asia.
Negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur - Delivered in Plenary, May 9th 2005
It gives me great pleasure to speak on behalf of my Group, and I pay especial tribute to the work of my colleague, Mr Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, who is unable to be present tonight, and who is a renowned expert on EU-Latin America trade and political relations.
Human rights in the world - Delivered in Plenary, April 27th 2005
I should like to congratulate Mr Coveney on his excellent report. I have always supported the highest civil and political rights and good governance for all states. Democracy is the ideal form of government that enables the full consent of the peoples involved.
Bangladesh - Delivered in Plenary, April 14th 2005
About a third of this poor, over-populated but democratic country of 140 million people is landless and forced to live on, and cultivate, flood-prone land. Traditionally the majority Muslim population has lived peacefully with other religious minorities, and Bangladesh has a good record on education and civil rights for women.
Eutelsat - Delivered in Plenary, April 11th 2005
I wish to protest at the decision of Mr Berretta, the chief executive officer of Eutelsat, to discontinue the contract for New Tang Dynasty Television, a US-based global channel that is the only free uncensored Chinese-language broadcaster to reach mainland China.
New Tang Dynasty Television - Press Conference, International Press Centre, Brussels, March 15th 2005
NTDTV, a U.S. based Chinese language broadcaster, is widely watched in Europe, (including by my own constituents in London), North America and in China, where unlike their kinsmen elsewhere in the free world, they have only limited access to uncensored news or the facility to watch free political debate.
Situation in Lebanon - Delivered in Plenary, March 8th 2005
Lebanon has a recent history of civil war and a complex ethnic and religious balance. It has never been fully recognised as independent by neighbouring Syria, which has not even bothered to open an embassy there, claiming Beirut is too near Damascus. Instead, Syria has promoted through its pan-Arab Ba’athist doctrine a ‘greater Syria’ concept.
Charles Taylor - former president of Liberia - Delivered in Plenary, February 24th 2005
Africa has for too long been torn by civil strife, hunger, economic mismanagement and blatant corruption. It is now at last beginning to get its own house in order with Regional blocks and Continental wide supranational institutions committed to observe international human rights law such as ECOWAS and the African Union.
Human rights - Delivered in Plenary, February 23rd 2005
High standards of human rights are part of the raison d'ętre of the EU, both internally and internationally, in its foreign and development policies. I am, however, a little cynical when I see references to the UN Human Rights Commission, whose current membership includes Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Zimbabwe.
Elections in Moldova - Delivered in Plenary, February 23rd 2005
Moldova is a small landlocked country, the poorest in Europe, whose importance to the EU will rise as our frontiers will border it by 2007. It is also the location of a frozen conflict in its breakaway territory of Transnistria, under Russian military protection since 1991, following a bloody secessionist conflict.
Situation in the Middle East - Delivered in Plenary, January 26th 2005
I welcome the free and democratic election of President Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority. As an election observer, I was delighted to see the enthusiasm by civil society, including women, to participate in this experiment, unique in the Arab world. In spite of calls by Hamas for a boycott, even that organisation, afraid of being frozen out of the political process, is now talking of taking part in the parliamentary elections. Abu Mazen now has a strong mandate to negotiate with Israel.
Results of Ukraine elections - Delivered in Plenary, January 13th 2005
Commissioner Rehn stated recently in a Financial Times article that the EU cannot close its doors to future enlargement, which is extended to all European countries with a European vocation and common democratic values. Then, for unexplained reasons, Ukraine is labelled a 'neighbour of Europe' with no prospects for EU membership, only closer integration with the EU.