Mr President, while the euro crisis occupies political agendas and headlines, we are facing another crisis, which is that of the EU as a global player. High Representative, I believe that this week’s statements on Bahrain, Syria and the violence in Egypt were very good, but what actions will now back up those words? The EU can seek stronger overlap between values and interests, but not if it continues to navel-gaze or fragment.
We should leverage the impact of our single market to make it work for stability, growth and the defence of human rights. Obama has announced oil sanctions for Syria. While the EU is Syria’s main trading partner, it was unable to unite or to lead in this issue. Looking inward also hurts our relationship with Turkey, while we need to cooperate and engage on North Africa and the Middle East in a more intensive way.
We are largely failing our neighbours and the next generation, and with that our own interests. The Arab Spring is turning into a winter and we must stand more closely with those people and their future. In Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is behaving no differently than the Mubarak regime was. Citizens are tried in military courts for blogging – like Maikel Nabil – or for speaking out – like Asmaa Mahfouz. What concrete actions will the EU take to invest in a truly new Egypt?
In Syria, an illegitimate government continues to kill people, and there are now threats to Europe concerning that might happen to us if we recognise the Opposition Council. Those threats were made, Mr Pöttering, by the Grand Mufti, and Syrians in the EU are also facing threats. It is up to the Syrian people to determine their own future, but we must protect their human rights and we are not doing enough. More pressure, and giving a clear choice to the economic elites that doing business with al-Assad means no business with Europe would be a good start. Let me specifically highlight the need to ban the export of surveillance, security and censoring technologies to countries that use them to violate human rights. In Bahrain, the prosecution of doctors in military courts for treating people indiscriminately shows disregard for human life. The world unitedly condemns that in the strongest terms. I also wanted to highlight the case of two bloggers that are imprisoned in Bahrain – Abduljalil al-Singace and Ali Abdulemam. Please highlight their cases too.