Speeches - 2011
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Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafiq Tagi - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2011
The tragic case of Rafiq Taqi is, regrettably, symptomatic of the culture of poor human rights in Azerbaijan, which is a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
Situation of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2011
The situation of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan remains serious. Human rights abuses perpetrated against women remain commonplace, sadly, and more worryingly are frequently tolerated by the authorities.
Tunisia: the case of Zakaria Bouguira - Delivered in Plenary, 15th December 2011
My Group, the ECR, welcomes the commitments that have been made by the new Tunisian Government following the end of the Ben Ali dictatorship – a deeply corrupt regime – and particularly its cooperation with the UN in putting procedures in place to respect Tunisia’s international legal obligations and to prevent torture and in particular inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.
EU-Russia summit - Delivered in Plenary, 13th December 2011
The conduct of the recent parliamentary elections in Russia has clearly shown that there is deterioration in Russian democracy. Reports are widespread of electoral fraud, harassment and arbitrary detention of peaceful demonstrators by the authorities and with impunity for the election fraudsters, which all flies in the face of Prime Minister Putin’s assurances that the elections were free and fair.
European neighbourhood policy - Delivered in Plenary, 13th December 2011
The European neighbour policy nobly aims to promote in our nearest neighbours democracy, human rights and prosperity. The idea is more for more, that is to say, the closer they get to us the more aid, trade and political concessions they get from the European Union.
Electoral fraud in Russia and Congo - Delivered in Plenary, 1st December 2011
I wish to express my concern about two important elections which took place this week. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there have been serious concerns about the activities of the CENI, the electoral commission, with accusations of widespread fraud in favour of the incumbent, President Joseph Kabila.
Croatia Accession Treaty - Delivered in Plenary, 30th November 2011
I had the pleasure of spending my summer holidays in Croatia and seeing first hand the level of prosperity and social progress in that beautiful country. As it has negotiated all EU chapters for accession, my group, the ECR, will indeed give its assent tomorrow to Croatia becoming the 28th Member of the European Union.
EU-US summit of 28 November 2011 - Delivered in Plenary, 16th November 2011
The unique and historical relationship between the United States and the European Union is based on shared values, such as free market economics and a long-standing commitment to fundamental respect for human rights and democratic forms of governance. A close and integrated relationship between the EU and the US is essential, given the interdependence of the transatlantic economic partnership, the biggest in the world.
Tibet, in particular self-immolation by nuns and monks - Delivered in Plenary, 27th October 2011
There are shocking reports now of these eight monks and one nun self-immolating in China’s Sichuan province. In each case, seven of which have occurred in the last month, the self-immolation was undertaken in protest at China’s restrictive policies in Tibet, and in particular over the 300 monks who were taken away from the Kirti monastery in April.
Bahrain - Delivered in Plenary, 27th October 2011
We must congratulate the Bahraini people on their Arab Spring struggle for democratic change. We deeply regret the loss of life to date and the fact that criminal sentences handed down to anti-government protesters have been too severe.
Public health threat of antimicrobial resistance - Delivered in Plenary, 26th October 2011
Antibiotic resistance is a very serious medical problem in Europe. People are dying from nosocomial infections and MRA – and nothing can stop these killer bugs. In the past, useless over-prescribing by doctors (and I happen to be one of them) of antibiotics for viral infections was blamed, but in recent years the issue of massive doses being given in animal feeds as growth promoters was also blamed and investigated and the practice was eventually banned.
Situation in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Egypt - Delivered in Plenary, 12th October 2011
Earlier this year the Egyptian army played a crucial role in forcing the resignation of President Mubarak, after refusing orders to shoot protestors – thus making Egypt’s move towards democracy far less bloody than the transition in Libya, where the pro-Gaddafi forces have proved resilient, requiring NATO intervention to tip the balance.
Current developments in Ukraine - Delivered in Plenary, 12th October 2011
The Tymoshenko ruling is a travesty: the charges were politically motivated and the sentence shows that President Yanukovych believes the world will stand idly by while he imprisons his political opponents through the use of selective justice. This cannot be allowed to happen on our doorstep.
EU support to refugees in Tunisia - Delivered in Plenary, 28th September 2011
In Tunisia the departure of Ben Ali heralded the triumph of democracy over despotism. For the first time in generations, Tunisians have the right democratically to determine their own destiny. Under the new democratic leadership, stability has been restored in Tunis and the country is once more on the road to prosperity.
Middle East Peace Process - Delivered in Plenary, 27th September 2011
The ECR Group is indeed in favour of a negotiated two-state Israel-Palestine solution, on the basis of the 1967 borders, with land for peace swaps, and agreed on by both parties under the Quartet principles. President Abbas’s unilateral bid before the UN General Assembly is rushed and will do nothing to change the situation on the ground.
Eastern partnership summit - Delivered in Plenary, 27th September 2011
Whilst the eyes of the EU are understandably focused on the Southern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Middle East and North African countries, we must not lose sight of the importance of the Eastern Partnership and our support for closer relations with the six countries to the East.
Sexual orientation and gender identity at the UNHRC - Delivered in Plenary, 27th September 2011
Human rights are universal and indivisible and apply to all equally, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The UN Human Rights Council, despite its significant shortcomings, has done some useful work in this area. Holding an open and respectful dialogue on sexual orientation and gender identity amongst UN Member States is indispensable in achieving a world where equality and non-discrimination against LGBT people is the international norm.
EU-Taiwan trade - Delivered in Plenary, 26th September 2011
As chairman of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group in this Parliament, I strongly believe that the EU should pursue a free-trade type agreement with Taiwan, which will probably be called something like ‘trade enhancement measures’.
Belarus - arrest of Ales Bialatski, human rights defender - Delivered in Plenary, 15th September 2011
The current situation in Belarus is truly deplorable. Given that it is twenty years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fact that Lukashenko to this day, and on the continent of Europe, deems appropriate the use of brutal force, persecution and harassment in order to quash peaceful dissidence within his country can no longer be tolerated.
Sudan: situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State - Delivered in Plenary, 15th September 2011
Despite South Sudan’s independence, there remains some unresolved disputes and tensions between the north and the south, centring on three areas: Blue Nile State and Kordofan and the troubled region of Abyei. These areas possess, perhaps unsurprisingly, significant oil reserves and large water supplies.
Eritrea - case of Dawit Isaak - Delivered in Plenary, 15th September 2011
As a supporter of this Parliament's MEPs for a Democratic Eritrea Group, the continued detention of Dawit Isaak saddens me a great deal. Mr Isaak has been incarcerated incommunicado since 23 September 2001, for over ten years, and in all probability is being held in inhumane conditions without the hope of a fair trial, the requirement for which is technically enshrined in Article 17 of the Eritrean Constitution.
Situation in Libya - Delivered in Plenary, 14th September 2011
Free Libya Forces have courageously liberated Tripoli. They have control of the country’s key population centres. There have been few reprisals or abuses committed by the anti-Gaddafi forces, in contrast to the serious war crimes committed by Gaddafi loyalists and foreign mercenaries.
Situation in Syria - Delivered in Plenary, 14th September 2011
When installed by the Syrian Ba’athist clique which surrounded him, President Bashar al-Assad was seen by many as a young reformer – a doctor like me, which implied some degree of compassion – and the man who would lead Syria away from the brutal dictatorship of his father, dominated by the Alawite sect, into a modern pluralist democracy.
Democratic Republic of Congo, mass rape in South Kivu province - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2011
The Democratic Republic of Congo is something of a misnomer, as it is certainly not democratic, nor is it really a functioning republic. If it was, we could perhaps hope to see the government take action to prevent the mass rape of women and to prosecute those responsible for that heinous crime. But in reality the government has little authority over vast swathes of this anarchic country.
Indonesia, including attacks on minorities - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2011
The attacks on members of the Ahmadi Christian community in Indonesia are symptomatic of a worrying trend in many Muslim societies, even those like Indonesia that are considered relatively enlightened under their system of Pancasila.
The death sentence on Davinder Pal Singh - Delivered in Plenary, 7th July 2011
The ECR has no collective view on the death penalty for murder, leaving it to MEPs to decide individually according to their own conscience. India, as a democratic country, reserves the right to impose death sentences on those convicted of the most heinous capital crimes.
Situation in North Africa, Yemen and Syria - Delivered in Plenary, 6th July 2011
Six months after the start of the Arab Spring, the countries in the Middle East and North Africa remain in flux.
Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh - Delivered in Plenary, 6th July 2011
The Nagorno-Karabakh question is often described as a frozen conflict but this is far from the truth. It is actually thawing very rapidly with an increase in sniper fire at the line of contact, escalating Armenian casualties and the possibility now of a full-scale war breaking out, dragging in Iran and Russia on one side and Turkey on the other. This is extremely dangerous.
Guantánamo: imminent death penalty decision - Delivered in Plenary, 9th June 2011
The ECR group believes that capital punishment is a personal conscience issue for each MEP and, although we acknowledge the EU’s common position opposing execution in all circumstances, the fact of the matter is that many millions of European citizens, our constituents, are still in favour of capital punishment.
Ukraine - Delivered in Plenary, 9th June 2011
Six years on from the Orange Revolution, Ukrainian politics remain characterised by rivalry and tension. Former Prime Minister Tymoshenko and some members of the former government that she led are now being pursued through the courts for criminal acts allegedly committed whilst in office. These charges to me have a smell of being politically motivated.
European Arrest Warrant - Delivered in Plenary, 8th June 2011
I too personally believe this whole debate needs a dose of common sense now. I still believe that some sort of European Arrest Warrant is a necessary tool to fight crime and terrorism across the Union, particularly given the huge free movement of people now moving between Member States, including – sadly – criminals.
EU-Russia summit - Delivered in Plenary, 8th June 2011
Russia is an important partner for the EU in many respects. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia exercises a potentially decisive influence on international affairs, from our relations with North Korea to its involvement in the UN quartet.
Sudan and South Sudan - Delivered in Plenary, 7th June 2011
On 9 July South Sudan will declare independence as an English-speaking new African state. The EU has rightly supported the CPAP’s process and referendum in South Sudan. However, the next few months will remain critical. South Sudan must be enabled to establish itself as a viable sovereign state.
Sri Lanka: follow-up of the UN report - Delivered in Plenary, 12th May 2011
Finally Sri Lanka is enjoying peace after a quarter of a century of terrorist insurgency, and the UN report on the Sri Lankan army’s defeat of the Tamil Tigers is heavy on criticism and light on substantive, proven facts.
Azerbaijan - Delivered in Plenary, 12th May 2011
Last December‘s elections predictably delivered an overwhelming majority for Heydar Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan Party. In response, the OSCE stated that the conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of that country.
Belarus - Delivered in Plenary, 12th May 2011
I will be talking about Belarus and not Hungarian domestic politics. It is 20 years since the Soviet Union collapsed, but for President Lukashenko of Belarus it is as if nothing has changed at all. Political repression is as rife as it ever was in the Soviet days, and Lukashenko’s secret police – provocatively still called the KGB – are used as its enforcers.
Common Foreign and Security Policy - Delivered in Plenary, 11th May 2011
The major development in the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) this year has undoubtedly been the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Emergency autonomous trade preferences for Pakistan - Delivered in Plenary, 9th May 2011
The images of last summer’s flooding in Pakistan were indeed shocking, and the European Union rightly sought to implement aid measures to assist the millions of Pakistanis whose lives were devastated by this terrible disaster.
The case of Ai WeiWei in China - Delivered in Plenary, 7th April 2011
Once again we are debating China, and its government’s intolerance of dissent. As we know from our debate last month on the Communist regime’s vandalism of the ancient city of Kashgar, China vigorously tries to suppress cultural expression that does not conform to what its Communist rulers deem appropriate.
Ban on the elections for the Tibetan government in exile in Nepal - Delivered in Plenary, 7th April 2011
Since the abolition of the Nepalese monarchy and the election of a Maoist-led government in Kathmandu, Nepal and China have inevitably grown much closer. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Nepalese authorities prevented Tibetan refugees living in Nepal from voting for a prime minister and a parliament in exile.
Zimbabwe - Delivered in Plenary, 7th April 2011
Mr President, the EU supports the Kimberley Process, which aims to eliminate African conflict diamonds – or so-called blood diamonds – from the global market. However, recent developments in Zimbabwe are worrying.
Situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen - Delivered in Plenary, 6th April 2011
In Syria security forces have brutally responded to demonstrations about legitimate grievances with lethal force. President Assad’s belligerence and his rhetoric towards Israel, our ally, his support for terrorists such as Hezbollah and his friendship with Iran all mark him out, in my view, as a dangerous autocrat.
Progress Report on Iceland - Delivered in Plenary, 6th April 2011
The ECR Group fully supports Icelandic accession to the European Union, although the decision is firmly a matter for Icelanders alone in a referendum.
Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - Delivered in Plenary, 6th April 2011
This year we celebrate 30 years since your country, Greece, became a member of the EU. As a confirmed philhellene, I believe Greece has contributed massively to our Union. It has gained a great deal too, so why Greece would continue to deny the same benefits to its neighbour, Macedonia, simply on the base of its name, is quite beyond me and many from my country.
Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Delivered in Plenary, 6th April 2011
The Middle East and North African countries of the Southern Neighbourhood clearly need the EU’s long-term political and – where appropriate – financial support. In countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya we should concentrate our efforts on consolidating nascent democratic awakenings into a lasting legacy of stable, secular and enlightened governance.
Pakistan - murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities - Delivered in Plenary, 10th March 2011
One by one in Pakistan the voices of reform and progress are being extinguished. Shahbaz Bhatti knew he was in danger, both as a Christian in a country where religious intolerance is rife, and as Minister for Minorities who fearlessly denounced his country’s draconian blasphemy laws. However, he refused to be cowed by the Islamist fanatics who threatened him with death.
Belarus, the cases of Ales Michalevic and Natalia Radin - Delivered in Plenary, 10th March 2011
The fact that in Belarus President Lukashenko’s secret police is still called the KGB tells us all that we need to know about his mentality and methods. Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union he remains the archetypal homo sovieticus , a strong man whose addiction to power is as strong as his instincts for crushing dissent.
Situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar - Delivered in Plenary, 10th March 2011
The EU’s motto is ‘Unity in diversity’. Sadly, such a sentiment does not resonate in the People’s Republic of China, whose Communist rulers are obsessed with unity, but not much thought is given to celebrating diversity.
Progress report on Turkey - Delivered in Plenary, 8th March 2011
Turkey’s momentum towards EU accession continues to falter. One reason, of course, is the non-compliance with the Ankara Additional Protocols and non-recognition and continued occupation of Cyprus.
European integration process of Montenegro - Delivered in Plenary, 8th March 2011
I visited Montenegro twice during the past eighteen months, with my colleague Anna Ibrisagic from the PPE as shadow rapporteur, to form my own assessment of the country’s progress towards, first, candidate status and, now, the prospect of EU membership.
Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia - Delivered in Plenary, 17th February 2011
For us in the European Union, the idea of taking military action over border disputes is now thankfully unimaginable. However, this is sadly not the case on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, whose armies have clashed several times in the past couple of weeks over a disputed, tiny, part of their border near to an ancient temple.
Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders - Delivered in Plenary, 17th February 2011
Yemen is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which expressly prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders – those convicted of crimes committed when the perpetrators were under the age of 18.
Uganda: murder of David Kato - Delivered in Plenary, 17th February 2011
The murder of David Kato is the direct result of the hatred and hostility towards Uganda’s LGBT community, whipped up by certain hard-line parliamentarians in that country. Twice in the past year we have lambasted the outrageous attempts by some MPs in Uganda to mandate the death penalty for the so-called crime of same-sex activity.
Progress report on Croatia - Delivered in Plenary, 16th February 2011
Croatia’s progress towards EU membership continues smoothly, as the report makes clear. British Conservatives support the enlargement of the EU to include countries that fully meet the Copenhagen criteria, as we believe that a larger EU should result in a more flexible and less centralised union.
Situation in Egypt - Delivered in Plenary, 16th February 2011
During the first thirty years of Israel’s existence, Egypt was its implacable foe. For the past thirty years, the two countries have, mercifully, been at peace.
Rule of law in Russia - Delivered in Plenary, 15th February 2011
Russia is an important partner for the EU on many fronts, but we cannot pretend that Russia is a genuine democracy with a rule of law. Unsolved murders of journalists and human rights defenders to politically-motivated show trials with acquiescent judges say it all in my view. Why, then, is Russia tolerated as a member of the Council of Europe? That is a very good question.
Situation in Albania - Delivered in Plenary, 15th February 2011
If Albania is to make progress towards its eventual goal of EU accession, its political leaders need to engage in a more constructive, democratic and mature way. Last month’s violence was a reminder of the inherent instability of Albanian politics.
Situation in Tunisia and Egypt - Delivered in Plenary, 2nd February 2011
Egypt has been a republic since 1956 but Mubarak is only the country’s third President. In Tunisia, Ben Ali was only the second leader since independence 53 years ago. When the political landscape offers such little hope of change, inevitably frustrations boil over – as we now see with the hurricane of change blowing across the region.
Referendum on the future status of Southern Sudan - Delivered in Plenary, 2nd February 2011
I have never doubted that Sudan’s partition is the only way to guarantee peace, justice and development for South Sudan. I am therefore delighted that southerners voted with such overwhelming determination in favour of a sovereign, independent future.
Pakistan: murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer - Delivered in Plenary, 20th January 2011
When Governor Salmaan Taseer was buried, it seemed to me as though any hope for a moderate, stable Pakistan was buried with him. This disgusting murder of a dedicated and enlightened public servant was sparked by his advocacy of reforming Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.
Iran, in particular the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh - Delivered in Plenary, 20th January 2011
We should never forget in this House that the freedom to debate and dissent that we so much enjoy in Europe is scarce and non-existent in many parts of the world. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Iran.
Situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion - Delivered in Plenary, 19th January 2011
When I was first elected to this House eleven years ago, it was regarded as somewhat eccentric, verging on embarrassing – particularly even within the EPP I have to say – that I frequently raised the issue of Christian persecution in the Islamic and Communist worlds, which I regret has only got worse since then.
Security situation in the Sahel region - Delivered in Plenary, 19th January 2011
Sadly, Salafist forces that are part of the global al-Qa’ida franchise have found sanctuary in the Sahel region, which is a vast and remote territory ideal for them for purposes of terrorist training, kidnapping unfortunate innocents – and here I extend my condolences to the families of the two French citizens recently murdered – and, of course, drug smuggling and organised crime.
Situation in Belarus - Delivered in Plenary, 19th January 2011
The election for the Presidency in Belarus proved to be gravely disappointing for those of us who have been watching that country for a number of years. I met the Belarusian Ambassador in London, who reassured me that this time it would all be different, that it would be up to international standards and that the OSCE would be able to say that it was fair and free.
EU-Libya Framework Agreement - Delivered in Plenary, 19th January 2011
Libya is a country where human rights are routinely abused and democracy is non-existent. Colonel Gaddafi has never stood for election since coming to power 41 years ago. Indeed political parties are banned.
EC-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement - Delivered in Plenary, 18th January 2011
Serbia’s progress towards EU membership is gathering pace, and rightly so, as evidenced by the excellent Kacin report.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Lithuania - Delivered in Plenary, 18th January 2011
The EU is founded on the principle that all its citizens enjoy equal rights and freedoms. Every country that wants to become a Member State of the EU must commit to that principle and be signatory to the ECHR, not least with regard to sexual orientation.
Situation in Tunisia - Delivered in Plenary, 17th January 2011
The upheaval in Tunisia is undoubtedly a reflection of people’s frustration at the country’s political stagnation and its relative economic stagnation. The flagrant corruption and wealth of the ruling family elite contrasted sharply with the high levels of poverty and unemployment among ordinary people.