Speeches - 2007
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Women's rights in Saudi Arabia - Delivered in Plenary, 13th December 2007
Recently King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was afforded a controversial state visit to the United Kingdom. Our Deputy Foreign Minister praised the shared values of the UK and Saudi Arabia. I found this sycophancy absurd, as my values of democracy, human rights and gender equality are alien to Saudi tradition.
Situation in Georgia - European Neighbourhood Policy, 14th November 2007
I too would like to join in thanking both Mr Beglitis, who is now a Greek MP in his national Parliament, and his successor Mr Obiols i Germà for excellent cross-party cooperation and eventual consensus as co-rapporteurs of this key report.
Pakistan - Delivered in Plenary, 25th October 2007
Last week’s suicide bomb blast in Karachi reminded us of just how perilously close Pakistan has come to anarchy. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Pakistan becoming a rogue state controlled by Islamist fanatics is, quite frankly, terrifying.
EU-Turkey relations - Delivered in Plenary, 24th October 2007
According to The Times newspaper of London, the recent US Congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide was appallingly timed. So, when is it a suitable time to talk about genocide?
Production of opium for medical purposes in Afghanistan - Delivered in Plenary, 24th October 2007
Madam President, it is important that substances derived from opium, like diamorphine (also known as heroin), are available for medical purposes, especially pain relief, but poppy cultivation provides the Taliban terrorists with 20-40% of their funds, which enables them to kill NATO soldiers. Regrettably, Afghan opium production increased 34% this year and constitutes over 90% of global supply
Cry Freedom - EUW Commissions day, 4th October 2007
The title of this Commissions Day, Cry Freedom, evokes the great film of the same name about the evils of apartheid. South Africa may now be a beacon of democracy in a troubled continent but, as this event recognises, so many millions of people in the world are still denied the basic freedoms we in Europe take for granted.
Mercosur - Delivered in Plenary, 25th September 2007
In the past I was a champion of EU-driven regional integration in Latin America through preferential support for regional multilateral blocs, such as Mercosur. But, regrettably, in spite of the closeness of its constituent countries culturally, Mercosur remains too weak politically compared to national interests.
Bangladesh - Delivered in Plenary, 6th September 2007
Bangladesh is a large and strategic South Asian country, and once again regrettably is in the news with the August student demonstrations and the arrest of three former prime ministers in a process aimed at combating corruption, but unfortunately and perversely having the appearance of attempting to stifle the democratic, albeit deeply divided, political classes.
Consultations on human rights with third countries - Delivered in Plenary, 5th September 2007
The Valenciano Martínez-Orozco report on promoting human rights and democracy remains a fundamental cornerstone of the EU and the common values that unite the 27 Member States. It is also a key component externally in our strategic alliances beyond, in the wider 47-member-state Council of Europe, in our transatlantic partnership in NATO and with like-minded countries within the UN.
Enhanced EC-Ukraine agreement - Delivered in Plenary, 12th July 2007
On behalf of the PPE-DE Group I warmly welcome the Kamiński report. Ukraine, as well as being the EU’s immediate strategic neighbour, is our vital trading partner in energy matters. Right now, it is in the middle of a constitutional crisis in terms of divisions of power between the President and Parliament, and between the Ukrainian-speaking western and central regions, and the south and east.
The humanitarian situation of Iraqi refugees - Delivered in Plenary, 12th July 2007
I was one of those politicians who supported the Iraq war back in 2003 in the belief that Saddam Hussein posed a serious long-term risk to regional stability, but also because of the horrendous brutality of his Baathist regime. I believed this would be replaced by democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Situation in Pakistan - Delivered in Plenary, 11th July 2007
I have been a critic of Pakistan’s government for some time. I have also been sceptical at times as to the real determination of President Musharraf to really stamp out radical Islamist Jihadis and stop youngsters being educated in the hardline Deobandi madrassas.
Burma - Delivered in Plenary, 21st June 2007
Burma has one of the world’s worst human rights and lack of democracy track records, with people-trafficking for sexual exploitation, domestic service and forced commercial labour. This is compounded by the military junta’s severe economic mismanagement. Burma also remains the world’s second-largest producer of illicit opium.
We must extend our sympathy to Israel - Delivered in Plenary, 18th June 2007
Last week showed Hamas up for what it really is: a fanatic, banned terrorist group, as evidenced by its appalling behaviour after the military coup in so-called ‘Hamastan’ – their new name for the Sharia-based Islamist regime in Gaza – in which Fatah officials had their throats brutally cut in front of their families.
Middle East - Delivered in Plenary, 6th June 2007
Yesterday I met a delegation of Israeli citizens from Sderot who related to me first-hand the terror in their civilian population from 300 random Qassam rocket attacks launched at them from Hamas-controlled sites in Gaza, which clearly constitutes a war crime in international law, with two dead and many injured to date.
Kashmir: present situation and future prospects - Delivered in Plenary, 24th May 2007
The tragic and bloody dispute over the beautiful Himalayan territory of the former princely state of Kashmir between the two great south-Asian countries of India and Pakistan is one of the oldest in the world, going right back to UN Security Council resolutions 39 and 47 of 1948.
Estonia - Delivered in Plenary, 22nd May 2007
Russia regrettably will not wake up to the new geopolitical reality that the so-called ‘near-abroad’, where it exercised total power for most of the last century, from the Caucuses to Ukraine, is no longer a reality. The Baltic States are now also proud, independent EU Member States and it is right and proper that the EU and NATO, which they have joined, should show total solidarity when Russia attempts to bully the smallest of them – Estonia – over what is entirely a sovereign internal matter of that newly independent republic.
Situation in Palestine - Delivered in Plenary, 22nd May 2007
The recent downward spiral of internecine violence between armed secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas militias in Gaza is of grave concern, as we now see the consequences of a weakened Israeli leadership post-Lebanese war and a weakened Palestinian President Abbas having to deal with the religious fundamentalists within Hamas, who won the elections last year.
EU Russia summit - Delivered in Plenary, 9th May 2007
EU-Russia relations ahead of the forthcoming summit are at a critical juncture: we are facing a serious crisis over the relocation of the Soviet Memorial Statue in Tallinn.
Ukraine - Delivered in Plenary, 25th April 2007
I was privileged to observe the 2006 Ukrainian Parliamentary election, which was held in exemplary fashion. Regrettably, the outcome then produced neither a stable government nor a climate of financial probity amongst many of the Verkhovna Rada MPs, who had little interest in politics and really only a vested interest to protect their business interests or avoid prosecution by acquiring parliamentary immunity.
Transatlantic Relations - Delivered in Plenary, 25th April 2007
The next EU-US Summit will prove a historic one, and I fully support the German Presidency’s initiative for an extensive economic partnership between the EU and the United States, which now represents some 40% of world trade, and in particular Chancellor Merkel’s ambitious aim for a transatlantic market without barriers by 2015.
Common foreign and security policy - Delivered in Plenary, 29th March 2007
I welcome Mr Solana’s reference to Africa and Darfur and the lack of human rights in Darfur, but he regrettably missed out on Zimbabwe. The Arab League in Riyadh, which he visited only yesterday, promised a new initiative on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it still insists on the right of return of all Palestinian refugees – so nothing new as far as I can see.
Humanitarian situation of refugees from Iraq - Delivered in Plenary, 15th February 2007
I too want to focus on the Assyrian Christians who are now seeking refuge mainly in Syria and Jordan. Iraq’s Christian communities are amongst the world’s most ancient, speaking Aramaic, the language of Christ. They suffered terribly during the 1915 Armenian genocide, and then again under the Iraqi Hashemite monarchy for cooperating with the British during the First World War.
Extraordinary rendition - Delivered in Plenary, 14th February 2007
I was opposed to the Temporary Committee from the very start. It has proven to be an expensive exercise. We do not have any figures, but I estimate the cost to be over EUR 1 million. It has duplicated Senator Marty’s efforts in the Council of Europe and has produced nothing substantially new which was not already in the public domain.