Support path to democracy, condemn violence: Meeting of EU, Southern Mediterranean MPs comes at "historic moment"

Article published on March 5, 2011
community published
Article published on March 5, 2011
Source: A meeting this week of MEPs and MPs from countries bordering the Mediterranean comes at a significant time. Portuguese MEP Mário David (EPP), who heads Parliament's delegation to Mashreq countries, including Egypt, said, "we are lucky to have such a meeting at such a historic moment".
Italian Socialist Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the EP delegation to Maghreb countries, which includes Libya and Tunisia, has called it an "important opportunity" to analyse the situation.

Italian Liberal MEP Sonia Alfano who will attend the meeting of the "Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean" in Rome on 3-4 March said, "regimes on the other side of the Mediterranean that killed liberty have fallen and dictatorial regions that were considered unshakeable are trembling".

MediterraneanSea.jpg Speaking to us ahead of the meeting Mr David stressed that the EU must "encourage all our partners in the South and in the East of the Mediterranean to pursue their path to democracy (and) respect for human rights". He went on to say that the use of violence against demonstrators must be firmly condemned. In addition he called for negotiations between Israel and Palestine to be given greater impetus, based on the Arab League's Middle East Peace Plan of 2002.

Mr Panzeri was clear that he thought that the movement towards democracy and freedom in these States "will proceed". He added: "No situation is alike: in Tunisia the situation is rather different to that in Egypt and to that in Libya too. There also has to be a stronger EU presence in the aftermath of these events."

Mr Panzeri also called for "immediate action - particularly as far as the very delicate matter of immigration is concerned. "I'm talking about the availability of certain instruments and financial resources, as well as showing greater solidarity in tackling the problem in a more redistributive manner across Europe."

Meeting with history "lost", says Alfano

In Ms Alfano's opinion Europe has been too slow to adopt a common position on the emerging crises and has "lost an historic meeting with history". She went on to say, "we have allowed the United States to intervene first despite our geographical, historical and political links with this part of the world...The current situation shows that Europe must not make any concessions on human rights - ever".

Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek will head the delegation to the EuroMed summit. Ahead of the meeting he spoke of the "long road to lasting change: a road of political transition, through constitutional reforms, free and pluralistic elections and strengthening of civil society" through which the European Union must support these countries.

"We have to ensure that the changes brought about the people in the Mediterranean region have the strong support of Parliamentarians from the entire region," he said.

The annual meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM) brings together MPs and MEPs from the EU and from Mediterranean countries belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, including Algeria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Delegations from Tunisia and Egypt will not participate this time, due to the difficulties they are dealing with at home.

As well as recent events, immigration and the EU financial instruments for the region, including the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) of the European Investment Bank are on the agenda.