Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament 1999 - 2019

Speeches - 2010

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Malaysia: the practice of caning - Delivered in Plenary, 16th December 2010
Malaysia has moved towards a more Islamic form of governance in recent years. This is of some concern because Malaysia could be an important ally for the EU, being a strategically placed democratic Asian country with a developed economy.

Uganda: Discrimination against the LGBT population - Delivered in Plenary, 16th December 2010
Societies in Africa are, in general, socially conservative. In many African countries, sadly, homosexuality is indeed outlawed. Many people in Africa feel threatened by efforts to promote homosexuality, particularly when those efforts are led by NGOs and organisations based in the west.

Eritrean refugees held hostage in Sinai - Delivered in Plenary, 16th December 2010
The ECR Group condemns the appalling treatment being suffered by these innocent and mainly Eritrean victims of what amounts to a modern-day form of slavery inflicted by people traffickers. We welcome, too, the efforts made by the Egyptian Government to investigate the allegations and secure the refugees’ release, but we should also be focusing on why these unfortunate individuals flee in the first place.

Human rights in the world 2009 and EU policy on the matter - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2010
My group, the ECR, is fully committed to promoting fundamental human rights throughout the world. However, we also recognise that human rights often need to be balanced with realpolitik.

Outcome of the NATO Summit in Lisbon - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2010
NATO remains a fundamental element of Europe’s collective security and so does the bridge it builds with America. At the Lisbon Summit, NATO redefined its place at the heart of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture for its new strategic concept.

Future of the Africa/EU strategic partnership - Delivered in Plenary, 24th November 2010
The African Union has proved sometimes to be a disappointment in confronting Africa’s many challenges. The AU is all too often silent in the face of autocracy, corruption, electoral fraud and illegal coups d’état.

Situation in Western Sahara - Delivered in Plenary, 24th November 2010
The frozen conflict over Western Sahara is destabilising the surrounding region. Morocco’s intransigence continues to deny justice to the people of Western Sahara, who have been waiting for a referendum on independence for the past 20 years.

Strengthening the OSCE: a role for the EU - Delivered in Plenary, 10th November 2010
The OSCE plays an important and growing role in promoting peace and stability on our continent of Europe. The fact that America, Canada, Russia and many Central Asian countries are also full members gives the organisation great credibility and breadth – ‘from Vancouver to Vladivostok’, as the OSCE itself boasts.

Visas for Taiwanese Citizens - Delivered in Plenary, 10th November 2010
Commissioner Malmström was, of course, herself a good friend of Taiwan in her MEP days. I am now the President of the Taiwanese Friendship Group in this Parliament. I am, of course, delighted on behalf of our group to welcome the fact that Taiwanese citizens will soon be able to enter the Schengen zone without needing a visa – also known in EU jargon terms as a visa liberalisation for Taiwan.

Reforms and developments in the Republic of Moldova - Delivered in Plenary, 21st October 2010
No one is disputing that Moldova has a long way to go before it achieves its ultimate goal of joining the European Union, which is a goal that my group, the ECR, supports. It remains one of Europe’s poorest countries, despite being in the WTO, and, as such, is vulnerable to organised crime, human trafficking and corruption. Moldova remains hamstrung by the ongoing frozen conflict with the Russian-speaking and politically Russian- dominated breakaway region of Transnistria.

Forced evictions in Zimbabwe - Delivered in Plenary, 21st October 2010
I was not going to speak but unfortunately my colleague, Geoffrey Van Orden, cannot be with us this week. He has a long history of criticising the odious and brutal regime of President Robert Mugabe. I think, sadly, the only way we will see the end to the Zanu-PF Mugabe dictatorship is when he is actually taken out in a coffin.

Cambodia, in particular the case of Sam Rainsy - Delivered in Plenary, 21st October 2010
Although Cambodia is on paper a pluralist democracy, the respected NGO Human Rights Watch states that politicians and journalists critical of the government face violence and intimidation.

Instrument for Stability - Delivered in Plenary, 20th October 2010
The EU is the world’s largest multilateral donor of development aid and humanitarian assistance. It also plays an important political role supporting the promotion of human rights and democracy in third countries.

Ukraine - Delivered in Plenary, 20th October 2010
Ukraine is our major European democratic associative partner and I too hope that one day it will become a member of the European Union. Like many speakers, I have some doubts as to the appropriateness of an EP resolution shortly before their local elections, and my group, the ECR Group, has submitted a number of amendments to make the resolution more balanced and less repetitive.

European External Action Service - Delivered in Plenary, 19th October 2010
The set-up of the hybrid sui generis EEAS has been characterised by much debate, but High Representative Ashton deserves some credit for crafting a consensus on the way forward at a time when European leaders have been distracted by the eurozone crisis. British Conservatives opposed the creation of this service, fearing it would erode Britain’s prerogative to exercise an independent foreign policy. Now that the service is a political reality, we will engage with it constructively in order to ensure that British interests are indeed promoted and protected.

Visa liberalisation - Delivered in Plenary, 6th October 2010
Visa liberalisation is an important step for any country seeking a closer relationship with the European Union. Making it easier for bona fide citizens of third countries to visit the EU, for business and tourism, is an important part of integrating these countries with our own Union.

European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) - Delivered in Plenary, 23rd Septemer 2010
As the former rapporteur for the ENP in the last Parliament, I would say to Commissioner Füle that I remain sceptical as to whether one can really combine Morocco and Moldova under one policy umbrella. To an extent, the Eastern Partnership developments and the Euromed/Barcelona Process reflect my concerns.

Import of Laogai-made goods into the EU - Delivered in Plenary, 23rd September 2010
China is an economic capitalist wonder but it is essentially a brutal one-party Communist state. One of the more unpleasant facts is the forced ‘re-education’ through labour camps, or laogais, to which millions of dissenters or political opponents – from Uighurs to Falun Gong practitioners and, in the past of course, Tiananmen Square protesters and their relatives – are sent.

Human rights and justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Delivered in Plenary, 22nd September 2010
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is neither particularly democratic as we understand the term here in the European Union, nor is it an effectively functioning republic; this is partly due to its vast size, porous borders and poor infrastructure, which makes democratic governance a major challenge.

EU-China summit - Delivered in Plenary, 21st Setember 2010
The PRC remains a ruthless communist dictatorship, but every day capitalist China achieves another economic record. It is about to overtake Japan as the world’s second economy and is already – astonishingly – far and away Brazil’s number one trading partner, as China goes truly global.

Kenya: failure to arrest President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan - Delivered in Plenary, 8th September 2010
President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been indicted on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court for allegedly ordering terrible crimes in Darfur.

Human Rights in Syria - Delivered in Plenary, 8th September 2010
Last year I met the son of Haythan Al-Maleh in Brussels. He was seeking support for the release of his father. Mr Al-Maleh has a distinguished history as a human rights defender and jurist, and has been a frequent critic of the Al-Assad Baathist dictatorship in Syria over the years.

Arms exports - Delivered in Plenary, 8th Septemer 2010
The conventional arms industry is an important contributor to the economies of many Member States, including my own, the United Kingdom. In an unstable and dangerous world, EU Member States need the capacity to defend themselves, their interests and their allies around the world.

Israeli NGOs - Delivered in Plenary, 8th September 2010
Like all sovereign states, Israel has an absolute right to supervise, monitor and regulate as it sees fit the activities of domestic and international NGOs which operate on its territory, particularly if they are of a political nature and might be supportive of terrorism or coming from states which support terrorism.

Human rights in Iran - Delivered in Plenary, 6th September 2010
Once again this House finds itself discussing the brutal theocratic regime in Iran. The Iranian authorities mercilessly execute juveniles and young adults who committed crimes as children. Women who commit adultery are condemned under the Sharia law of Hud by stoning or lapidation under the category of so-called crimes of sexual misdemeanours.

Iceland's application for membership of the European Union - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2010
The ECR Group supports enlargement of the Union and in principle of course we support the accession of Iceland – if that is what the people of Iceland themselves want.

European External Action Service - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2010
The European External Action Service, or what we would prefer to be known as the EU Diplomatic Service, has been subject to a prolonged bout of wrangling over its composition recently. Thankfully, this has now ended, and High Representative Ashton emerges with considerable credit for her administrative skills and consensual approach.

Kosovo - Albania - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2010
The international community’s hasty and inconsistent approach towards Kosovo – and I await the ICG ruling with great interest – over the past decade has created a problem that will cost hard-pressed European taxpayers a lot of money. Kosovo cannot join the EU because five EU Member States refuse to recognise its sovereignty.

Ban on commercial whaling - Delivered in Plenary, 17th June 2010
Throughout my career as a Member of this House I have been a staunch defender of animal welfare. I have no enthusiasm for whaling, and I would like to see the moratorium on commercial whaling retained for as long as the species, or some of the species, are endangered.

Democratic Republic of Congo: the case of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire - Delivered in Plenary, 17th June 2010
This horrific case recalls the worst abuses that one of Africa’s most noted kleptocrats, the late Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire, a country that eventually became the DRC. The change of name has sadly not changed the political culture in this country.

Nepal - Delivered in Plenary, 17th June 2010
Nepal’s political instability is hardly surprising given the tumultuous changes that have taken place in that country over the last two decades. The palace massacres of 2001 fatally undermined the monarchy, and King Gyanendra’s attempts to impose absolute rule to combat Maoist insurgents failed dismally.

Executions in Libya - Delivered in Plenary, 17th June 2010
Personally I have never taken an absolutist stance with regard to the death penalty, but surely it should only ever be countenanced in a handful of the most extreme and egregious criminal cases where the conviction is by due process and beyond all doubt.

Conclusions of the EU/Russia summit - Delivered in Plenary, 16th June 2010
Given Russia’s physical proximity to the EU and its trillion-dollar economy and huge natural resources, particularly gas, the EU’s strategic relationship with Russia is of vital importance. My group acknowledges that Russia has a key role to play internationally as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Israeli military operation against the humanitarian flotilla and the Gaza blockade - Delivered in Plenary, 16th June 2010
I too deeply regret the loss of life in the IHH Gaza flotilla. However, I despair at the hysterical outbreak of Israel-bashing in this House. Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy. It may have made some serious mistakes in this operation, and I await the outcome of the inquiry assisted by a Canadian and British expert before passing judgement, but what is sure is that the IDF had no intention to use lethal force, and the commandos were shocked at the ferocity of the life-threatening attacks they sustained by IHH militants and responded in self-defence.

Trade in goods used for torture - Delivered in Plenary, 16th June 2010
History teaches us that usually countries with the highest standards of human rights are also the most prosperous and peaceful. We should therefore be proud of what the EU has achieved in this respect, but those achievements compel us to redouble our efforts to promote human rights around the world.

Situation in the Korean Peninsula - Delivered in Plenary, 16th June 2010
The so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, to me is the last example of a brutal Stalinist totalitarian state in the entire world with a cult of personality to boot and I think the ‘Dear Leader’ is now actually nurturing his son to take over from his brutal regime.

Union for the Mediterranean - Delivered in Plenary, 20th May 2010
President Sarkozy’s proposal for a Union for the Mediterranean was the highpoint of the French Presidency of the EU. Since then, it appears to have lost some of its lustre.

The need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus - Delivered in Plenary, 29th May 2010
As the Kirilov report makes clear, the countries of the South Caucasus are strategically important to our Union, not least in terms of energy security, e.g. Caspian oil and gas production and transit through the countries of the region. Sadly, however, this region remains paralysed by frozen conflicts, the most recent of which is, of course, Russia’s de facto occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Religious freedom in Pakistan - Delivered in Plenary, 20th May 2010
Pakistan’s inability to develop a strong and enduring democracy has impacted – quite severely, in my view – on religious freedom in that country. Successive leaders have used Islam to justify repression of minorities and justify autocracy, particularly of a military nature, although recent government efforts to remedy this must be recognised.

Burma - Delivered in Plenary, 20th May 2010
What more can we say about Burma that has not already been said, including calling again for the release of political prisoners like Aung San Suu Kyi who has become a global icon in the struggle for freedom? This resolution, like many before it in this House, chronicles the brutal repression of the Burmese people led by a military junta they never elected and have fought very hard to get rid of for many years.

International Criminal Court - Delivered in Plenary, 18th May 2010
My national party, the British Conservatives – for those who do not know, I am a Conservative – has expressed serious concerns in the past about the ICC and its enforcement of international criminal jurisprudence, as encapsulated in the Rome Statute, in the areas of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Mass atrocities in Jos, Nigeria - Delivered in Plenary, 6th May 2010
As a boy I remember vividly seeing on television the pictures of the horrific civil war in the Nigerian region of Biafra. Forty years on, sadly, little seems to have changed. The sickening images from Jos, where hundreds of innocent people were hacked to death in an act of savagery, remind us that Nigeria is a chronically unstable country.

SWIFT - Delivered in Plenary, 21st April 2010
The ECR Group supported the Council’s original agreement on SWIFT with the United States and its terrorist-financed tracking programme for the transfer of financial messaging data, subject of course to certain safeguards. We repudiated at the time the anti-Americanism, both latent and overt, that characterises some in this House.

The EU strategy for relations with Latin America - Delivered in Plenary, 20th April 2010
After the 2004 enlargement to central and eastern European countries, the EU has understandably refocused the CFSP towards the east, i.e. Russia, Central Asia and China, but nevertheless trade between Latin America and the EU continues to grow rapidly. So this largely democratic region with whom we have much in common must not be forgotten.

Kyrgyzstan - Delivered in Plenary, 20th April 2010
Recent events in Bishkek are alarming and a sad end to the 2005 Tulip Revolution, or Colour Revolution, when President Bakiyev had promised democracy and human rights and instead delivered corruption, nepotism and increasing autocracy.

Somaliland - Speech to the Somaliland Societies of Europe in Lyon, France, 16th April 2010
Most of the rest of the world knows no difference between Somalia and Somaliland. To outsiders, it's one and the same place. But we all know they are different. They may officially be part of the same country, sharing one language, but they are very different in so many other areas – and it's about time that we did more to understand why that is, and to help Somaliland to celebrate and promote its distinctive character.

Situation in Tibet - Delivered in Plenary, 24th March 2010
The fate of the people of Tibet and their remarkable Buddhist culture remains uppermost in the minds of those of us in this House who believe in human rights.

The case of Gilad Shalit - Delivered in Plenary, 11th March 2010
Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit has now been held hostage by the Jihadi fanatics of Hamas for over three years. Hamas claims it is a legal actor observing the Geneva Conventions and therefore he is a prisoner of war, but Israel, in my view rightly, regards him as an abductee from the moment he was seized.

Escalation of violence in Mexico - Delivered in Plenary, 11th March 2010
Mexico has long been a primary conduit into the world’s largest market for illegal narcotics, the United States. Mexico has therefore been scarred by the brutality and violence that go hand in hand with the drugs trade. Moreover, Mexico itself, as a country of 100 million people and a vital EU strategic partner, has increasingly – and sadly – become an important market for cocaine. The rising consumption by young people is especially worrying.

European Security Strategy - Delivered in Plenary, 10th March 2010
the Lisbon Treaty is now a legal reality in the international order, even if it lacks popular democratic legitimacy because most EU citizens, including Britain’s, were denied a vote in a referendum. Nevertheless, the ECR Group and British Conservatives are committed to positive engagement and to moving on within the new institutional framework.

EU policy on Arctic issues - Delivered in Plenary, 10th March 2010
When Denmark joined the EU in 1973, the EU assumed an Arctic dimension through the Danish dependency of Greenland. In 1985, Greenland chose to leave the EU but, when Sweden and Finland joined 10 years later, they substantially enlarged the EU’s interest in the Arctic region.

UN Human Rights Council - Delivered in Plenary, 24th February 2010
The Human Rights Council has undoubtedly laudable aims but it is seriously compromised by some of its members. Many of them have scant respect for human rights and democracy including Cuba, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua and Gabon – and Iran, as a potential candidate – to name just a few.

Venezuela - Delivered in Plenary, 11th February 2010
Press freedom and free democratic government are the foundations of the EU. For Hugo Chavez, the pseudo-dictator of Venezuela, they are simply obstacles on his path to absolute power. He is a demagogue, not a democrat, and has ruined the Venezuelan economy.

Madagascar - Delivered in Plenary, 11th February 2010
If the African Union aspires to have anything like the authority and respect accorded to the EU in international affairs, then Madagascar is surely a case in which the AU should act decisively. Instead we have seen the usual vacillation and tepid diplomacy following the fall of President Marc Ravalomanana, which is sadly reminiscent of the situation in Zimbabwe.

Burma - Delivered in Plenary, 11th February 2010
I have lost count of the number of times over the years in this House that we have debated the serious and worsening human rights situation in Burma, but, if we are ever tempted to soften our rhetoric against the brutal military junta, we only have to look around our own Parliament to remember why we need to maintain and increase the pressure on the generals.

EU Enlargement - Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey - Delivered in Plenary, 10th February 2010
The ECR Group favours enlargement of the European Union. We see not only significant benefits in a larger single market, but we also look – unlike some Members of this House – for a dilution of the federalist ambition at the heart of the European Union. However, candidates must be subject to rigorous and exacting standards as laid out in the Copenhagen criteria.

Body scanners - Delivered in Plenary, 10th February 2010
The recent announcement of compulsory back-scatter X-ray technology whole-body scanners at British airports by Prime Minister Gordon Brown is an outrage, in my view.

Situation in Ukraine - Delivered in Plenary, 10th February 2010
On Sunday I had the privilege to be present in Kiev as an observer for the ECR Group. Everything I saw was peaceful, transparent and – in many ways, curiously – more robust than in my own country, the UK, with transparent ballot boxes and photo ID required in order to allow you to vote.

Recent attacks on religious minorities in Egypt and in Malaysia - Delivered in Plenary, 21st January 2010
Sadly there has been a general climate in the Islamic world of increasing jihadi militancy aimed at non-Muslim communities in their midst – in particular, and more often than not, this means the Christians.

Human Rights violations in China - Delivered in Plenary, 21st January 2010
The fact that yet again in this House we are debating human rights abuses in China indicates that the Communist authoritarian leadership of Beijing remains determined to suppress any political dissent.

Philippines - Delivered in Plenary, 21st January 2010
This horrendous crime in Maguindanao is undoubtedly deserving of our strongest condemnation. It reveals the extent to which lawlessness has taken root in some parts of the Philippines.

Democratisation in Turkey - Delivered in Plenary, 20th January 2010
Turkey’s political system is sufficiently mature now to be considered a pluralist democracy. Political debate is robust and voters have a genuine choice. Moreover, Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe, which of course binds its government to common standards of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Situation in Iran - Delivered in Plenary, 19th January 2010
President Ahmadinejad’s ruthless ambition to develop nuclear weapons represents, in my view, the gravest threat to world peace today. But we should recognise that Iran’s people and the Iranian regime are not the same thing.

Uganda: anti-homosexual draft legislation - Delivered in Plenary, 17th January 2010
Uganda is a deeply Christian country where traditional values hold sway. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda as it is in many African countries. We must of course be sensitive about forcing our more liberal and tolerant values on others, because it can sometimes be counterproductive.

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