Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Debates
Tuesday, 3 October 2017 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

10. EU-Egypt partnership priorities for 2017-2020 (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
MPphoto
 

  President. – The next item is the debate on the statement by the Vice—President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the EU-Egypt partnership priorities for 2017—2020 (2017/2874(RSP)).

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Miguel Arias Cañete, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, last July, High Representative Mogherini and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, chaired the European Union-Egypt Association Council, in the presence of Commissioner Hahn. It was on that occasion that our new Partnership Priorities were adopted.

This was the first Association Council with Egypt in seven years, so the first since the beginning of the revolts in the Arab world. It is precisely in these times of transition that our cooperation becomes more important. It is important for the people of Egypt and their aspiration to security, democracy and economic growth. It is essential for the region – from Libya to Syria – and it is essential for Europe, because we are neighbours and we share many of the same challenges.

So we are glad that we have managed to reopen such an important channel for dialogue with Egypt. This does not mean that the European Union and Egypt agree on all files. But precisely when you disagree on something, engagement becomes essential. There is no other way to address any outstanding issue, in the interest of the Egyptian people and of the whole region.

Our partnership with Egypt will be structured around four main tracks. Firstly, support to the Egyptian government’s socio-economic reform agenda. In this field, there has been much concrete progress in the last year: the Egyptian authorities adopted an economic reform plan supported by the International Monetary Fund, aimed at bringing back macroeconomic stability and inclusive growth. This is an important step, and we are eager to support the plan, including through our bilateral assistance programme. We are also keen to support Egypt’s efforts to address the social and economic impact of these reforms, particularly on the most vulnerable parts of the population.

The second track of our partnership is building stronger cooperation on common challenges, such as counterterrorism and migration. Terrorism poses a fundamental threat to Egypt’s stability and security. Time and again, we have stood on the side of the Egyptian people when they were hit by a new attack. It is not just ‘moral’ solidarity; we are ready for more concrete cooperation in this field, and the Partnership Priorities are giving us the opportunity to explore new forms of common engagement.

Let me add that, whenever we discuss counterterrorism with our Egyptian counterparts, we always insist that repressive measures are never enough to address this issue. Terrorism needs to be tackled in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms.

On migration, Egypt has made an important contribution in hosting refugees, not least Syrian refugees. It has also significantly reduced irregular migration flows, through the implementation of the Valletta Action Plan and the Khartoum process. A better and more humane management of migration flows is in the interest first and foremost of migrants, but also of countries of origin, transit and destination. So we are currently working with our Egyptian counterparts to launch a high-level migration dialogue.

The third track relates to closer dialogue and cooperation on foreign policy and regional issues. Egypt currently seats on both the UN Security Council and the African Union Political and Security Council. Beyond that, it is an essential partner to address other crises in our region, starting with the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We share an interest in working together more, including on the conflicts in Libya and Syria, as well as to address tensions in the Gulf.

Last, but definitely not least, there is a strong political track in our partnership, which includes governance, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Union’s position on this is very clear and we reiterate it constantly in our dialogue with our Egyptian counterparts: sustainable security and stability can only be achieved when human rights – those guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and flowing from Egypt’s international commitments – are fully implemented.

If we want to help improve the situation of human rights in Egypt or to preserve the space for civil society, we have no alternative to engaging with them. It is in this spirit that the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, visited Egypt in February, to enhance dialogue on human rights with the Egyptian authorities.

We continue to pass this message both in public and in private, in all our contacts both at bilateral level and in multilateral fora. This is what we did, for instance, on the possible consequences of the new NGO law.

On NGOs, in particular, there is something we should not forget. The European Union is the biggest donor in Egypt. Total ongoing European Union financial assistance commitments to Egypt amount to over EUR 1.3 billion in grants. If Member State and European Financial Institutions’ grants, loans and debt-swaps are included, the figure rises to EUR 11 billion. A relevant part of this bilateral assistance relies on civil society organisations as implementing partners. Our partnership needs a strong and lively civil society, and this is something our Egyptian friends should also keep in mind.

The four tracks of our partnership are closely linked to one another. Sustainable security is linked to sustainable development, which is linked to human rights and to regional stability. This is the approach we have adopted with our Partnership Priorities, and this is the proof that only through engagement can we can address our common interests for the people of Egypt, for Europe and for our entire region.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Cristian Dan Preda , au nom du groupe PPE. – Monsieur le Président, le partenariat entre l’Union et l’Égypte est important pour la stabilité et la prospérité des deux rives de la Méditerranée. Nous avons des intérêts communs, nous devons également affronter des défis communs comme la lutte contre le terrorisme, le trafic des êtres humains, les migrations et l’instabilité dans notre voisinage Sud.

Sur tous ces fronts, nous avons besoin d’une action conjointe plus poussée. C’est pour cela que notre groupe salue la tenue, le 25 juillet dernier, du septième Conseil d’association UE-Égypte. Une impulsion supplémentaire a été ainsi donnée à ce partenariat, et nous partageons l’orientation générale des priorités qui ont été convenues.

Je me réjouis en particulier de voir que la section consacrée aux principes de la coopération évoque l’approfondissement du dialogue politique sur la démocratie et les droits de l’homme et la nécessité d’une collaboration avec les organisations de la société civile pour la mise en œuvre de ce partenariat.

Les deux dimensions sont très importantes, puisqu’on sait qu’il reste beaucoup à faire en matière de respect des droits de l’homme et de participation de la société civile en Égypte.

D’ailleurs, lorsqu’on discute avec nos interlocuteurs égyptiens, ils sont les premiers à le reconnaître. Et je trouve qu’il est essentiel de continuer à travailler avec eux pour promouvoir les droits de l’homme et privilégier une approche constructive qui nous permettra d’obtenir de meilleurs résultats sur le terrain.

Ainsi, une mission d’information du groupe PPE, à laquelle ont participé nos collègues Elmar Brok et Mariya Gabriel, a été dépêchée en Égypte en novembre 2016, et l’un des principaux messages communiqués à nos partenaires est que l’Union soutiendra toutes les mesures visant à l’adoption de normes internationales en matière des droits de l’homme en Égypte.

C’est un travail, certes de longue haleine, qu’il faudra soutenir avec constance afin de promouvoir une véritable transition démocratique en Égypte.

À cet égard, le mécanisme de suivi et d’évaluation qui sera mis en place dans le cadre du partenariat jouera un rôle essentiel, et il conviendra de s’assurer qu’il est suffisamment doté pour nous permettre d’atteindre ces objectifs.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Victor Boştinaru, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, Egypt is a key partner for the EU and we welcome the first EU-Egypt Association Council after the revolution and the adoption of the partnership priorities for the period 2017-2020. Egypt is undergoing a difficult period, but its path towards stability and sustainability is so important. Egypt is confronted with a challenging internal situation following the revolution and faces terrorism that continues to strike the country, with all its consequences on people, on tourism and on the economy.

We know there are many shortcomings, and yet we know and acknowledge the progress already made in certain areas, including the new parliament; but equally, we have to take note of the many areas where EU-Egypt cooperation is of fundamental importance. I mentioned terrorism. There is no doubt that to defeat terrorism we need a close cooperation with all partners, including Egypt. In this regard, I welcome the efforts of the President el-Sisi to reform Islam and to prevent radicalisation, as well as the strong effort to protect Christians, which has recently prevented attacks being launched against the Christian communities. But let me also add the importance of cooperating with Egypt on migration and for regional stability. We praise in particular the efforts of Egypt to play its very important broker’s role in Palestinian reconciliation. Just today we have taken note of the successful talks between the two sides and the fact that the two sides have decided to build up the national consensus government of Palestine. It’s an example of what Europe can do.

(The President cut off the speaker.)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Thank you, colleague. My apologies on behalf of those of us who are sitting here. You really had two minutes but there was a mistake in the papers. I give you our apologies.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Bas Belder, namens de ECR-Fractie. – Vanuit Europees perspectief loont het zeker de moeite kennis te nemen van de sociale media in Egypte. In deze sociale media woedt immers al maandenlang een verhit debat over de resultaten van het bewind van president Sisi en diens vooruitzichten op herverkiezing in april 2018.

Dit debat valt grosso modo positief uit voor het Egyptische staatshoofd: een ruime herverkiezing in april 2018 ligt in het verschiet. Echter, ook onder de sympathisanten van president Sisi heerst onmiskenbaar grote teleurstelling over 's lands ronduit dramatische sociaal-economische situatie (broodrellen bijvoorbeeld).

Dat brengt mij bij de grote rol die het Egyptische leger in de nationale economie speelt. Graag wil ik van de Raad en de Commissie weten, desnoods schriftelijk, hoe zij met dit militaire "business empire" omgaan binnen het kader van de partnerschapsprioriteiten tussen de EU en Egypte 2017-2020, die duidelijk spreken over "versterking van de rol van de private sector". Ik hoop dat de Commissie er nota van neemt en dat ik hierop een schriftelijk antwoord krijg: de rol van het militaire apparaat in de Egyptische economie. Zie dat eens te rijmen met versterking van de private sector.

In het officiële document over de gezamenlijke partnerschapsprioriteiten lees ik op pagina 7 dat de EU en Egypte samen blijven werken in de strijd tegen extremisme, discriminatie, inclusief islamofobie en xenofobie. Op grond van de Egyptische realiteit mogen hier twee woorden niet ontbreken: contra christofobie en contra antisemitisme.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I hope these words are conveyed to the High Representative, Commissioner. The circumstances that Egyptians live under and the EU’s relation to this crucial country merit a serious and critical assessment. Considering the increased focus on security, managing migration and now the EU-Egypt partnership, it is shocking and disappointing that the EPP and S&D Groups have blocked this debate for three years and, even now, colleagues have ensured that this House does not express itself in a resolution this month. I consider this to be a cop-out.

The human rights situation in Egypt cannot only be relevant for us when it hits home, however terrible the brutal murder of Giulio Regeni might be, and I too echo the ongoing calls for justice in that case. But countless Egyptians face grave injustices and violations of their rights, and we must address their fate too. They face systematic torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, and all of this is happening with impunity. Civilians are still tried by military courts and we have now seen 22 cases of death sentences. Very restrictive NGO laws make the work of civil society, including EU-based organisations, nearly impossible. Journalists and bloggers are harassed – and I want to highlight particularly the ongoing imprisonment of Alaa Abd El-Fattah – and they cannot work freely, and that is unacceptable. Add to that the recent wave of arrests of gay people and the intimidation of LGBT people. That is also unacceptable.

No short-term cooperation in the field of anti-terrorism or ‘migration management’ can compensate for these gross violations, nor can they justify the EU’s ongoing silence. Egyptians deserve better and need better. We know what a boiling point can be reached if the needs of young people are not addressed. There cannot be a partnership without respect for human rights.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marisa Matias, em nome do Grupo GUE/NGL. – Senhor Presidente, é verdade tudo o que foi dito relativamente à estratégia que é preciso estabelecer entre a União Europeia e o Egito enquanto parceiro histórico: as relações culturais e as relações de vizinhança.

É verdade também o papel fundamental do Egito relativamente à questão da Síria, da Líbia ou até mesmo da Palestina. Mas gostaria de retomar o que foi dito pela colega agora mesmo. É que entre parceiros não pode haver assuntos tabu, nomeadamente a questão dos direitos humanos nos dois sentidos: seja no que diz respeito à violação de direitos humanos no Egito, seja no que diz respeito à violação de direitos humanos na União Europeia.

Por isso, queria aqui afirmar, com muita veemência, que não pode haver cláusulas neste acordo que fiquem apenas no papel. É nossa responsabilidade que tudo o que está escrito no acordo seja cumprido e a questão dos direitos humanos não pode ser uma questão menor. Tem que estar ao nível das questões do comércio, tem que estar ao nível da questão dos interesses económicos, ou melhor, tem que estar acima delas, porque senão será sempre uma vítima pobre.

Peço, por isso, à Senhora Comissária que tenha em conta que, para haver parceria e para sermos amigos, temos que falar de direitos humanos e, volto a dizer, nos dois sentidos.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Barbara Lochbihler, im Namen der Verts/ALE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Das Partnerschaftsübereinkommen verpflichtet die EU und Ägypten, Menschenrechte auf der Basis von internationalen Standards zu achten und zu fördern. Die Realität in Ägypten sieht anders aus: Aktivisten der Zivilgesellschaft werden bespitzelt, bedroht und eingesperrt, Menschenrechtsorganisationen berichten von Folter, willkürlichen Verhaftungen, dem Verschwindenlassen von Inhaftierten, unfairen Gerichtsverfahren, Diskriminierung von Minderheiten und Frauen. Wir haben im letzten Jahr aufgrund der Ermordung von Giuglio Regeni hier eine Entschließung verabschiedet, die die katastrophale Menschenrechtssituation in Ägypten klar verurteilt.

Sie, Herr Kommissar Cañete, haben erwähnt, dass Sie sich für dieses NGO-Gesetz eingesetzt haben. Aber mit welchem Ergebnis? Das jüngste Partnerschaftsabkommen ist eine vertane Gelegenheit. Die EU hätte entschiedener auf konkrete Verbesserungen der Menschenrechtssituation drängen müssen. Beispielsweise hätte sie sich eben deutlich gegen dieses inzwischen verabschiedete NGO-Gesetz positionieren müssen. Dieses restriktive Gesetz bedroht direkt die Arbeit von Menschenrechtsorganisationen.

Die EU hat es versäumt, Ägypten gegenüber Klartext zu sprechen. Offenkundig haben Wirtschaftsinteressen Vorrang. Das zeigt sich auch darin, dass zahlreiche EU-Mitgliedstaaten sogar Waffen nach Ägypten exportieren, und dies im Widerspruch zum Beschluss des EU-Außenministerrats vom August 2013. Ich denke, mit dieser Ägypten-Politik machen sich die EU und ihre Mitgliedstaaten an der dortigen Menschenrechtspolitik mitschuldig.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Fabio Massimo Castaldo, a nome del gruppo EFDD. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, l'Egitto e l'Unione europea si impegnano a promuovere la democrazia, le libertà fondamentali, i diritti umani come diritti costituzionali di tutti i loro cittadini. Parole scritte del partenariato UE-Egitto 2017-2020, parole che risultano paradossali, amaramente surreali, pensando che nel territorio del nostro partner, chiunque voglia indagare sui circa 378 casi di sparizioni forzate, viene zittito brutalmente, come dimostra il recente caso dell'avvocato della famiglia Regeni, Ibrahim Metwaly Hegazy, rinchiuso nel carcere di massima sicurezza di Tora.

Gli sono stati tolti tutti i vestiti e il suo corpo è stato sottoposto a scosse elettriche; è in isolamento senza energia elettrica e la cella è piena di spazzatura. Lo dice la Commissione egiziana per i diritti e la libertà, alla cui sede oggi l'autorità egiziana probabilmente metterà anche i sigilli. Rafforzare la cooperazione con l'Egitto è un'aspirazione che condividiamo ma non possiamo chiudere gli occhi, né far tacere la nostra voce davanti al vergognoso silenzio sul sequestro, sulle torture e sulla morte di Giulio Regeni, un ragazzo italiano, un cittadino europeo.

Non siamo e non saremo complici di una utilitaristica ipocrisia e oggi, come sempre, chiediamo a gran voce, verità e giustizia per Giulio Regeni.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Mario Borghezio, a nome del gruppo ENF. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, sicuramente l'importanza di questo accordo di partenariato non può essere ignorata da chi ha a cuore, come noi, il problema della sicurezza del Mediterraneo, il problema dell'immigrazione, ma anche e forse soprattutto, il grave problema del terrorismo. È più che mai necessaria la collaborazione del Cairo per la sicurezza ora che, dopo la sconfitta in Iraq e in Siria, l'ISIS sta spostando l'asse operativo del Califfato verso il Nord Africa e il Sahel, cioè molto vicino all'Europa e in particolare al mio paese, l'Italia: ma non è che non veda anche la gravità della situazione dei diritti umani.

Se noi, come Unione europea, vogliamo essere amici e partner affidabili e credibili di questo paese che io continuo a ritenere amico, dobbiamo parlare con molta chiarezza su alcuni fatti di una gravità eccezionale, come quelli, più volte e giustamente, ricordati dai colleghi, come il caso veramente emblematico di Giulio Regeni, un ragazzo inviato da una università europea – ed è anche strano che l'Unione europea non abbia voluto approfondire il ruolo di questa università e di questi insegnanti, quali veri incarichi avessero dato a questo giovane ricercatore, sicuramente in buona fede.

Io vorrei sapere quali azioni concrete l'Alto rappresentante Mogherini ha posto in atto per difendere la memoria, l'onore e soprattutto le richieste, anche da un punto di vista morale, di due genitori italiani che ancora adesso hanno diritto di sapere la fine che ha fatto il loro figlio.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Γεώργιος Επιτήδειος (NI). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, η εταιρική σχέση της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης με την Αίγυπτο κινείται στα πλαίσια της αναθεωρημένης Πολιτικής Ευρωπαϊκής Γειτονίας και συνοψίζεται στην αντιμετώπιση των κοινών προκλήσεων, στην προώθηση κοινών συμφερόντων και στην εξασφάλιση μακροχρόνιας σταθερότητος και στις δύο περιοχές της Μεσογείου. Η Αίγυπτος είναι στρατηγικός εταίρος της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενώσεως και για τον λόγο αυτό συνεργάζεται μαζί της και σε άλλα σοβαρά θέματα, όπως είναι η εξασφάλιση σταθερότητος στην περιοχή της Ανατολικής Μεσογείου, η προώθηση θεμάτων κοινού ενδιαφέροντος, η αντιμετώπιση της τρομοκρατίας, η αντιμετώπιση της μεταναστεύσεως και τέλος η προώθηση της δημοκρατίας.

Η Αίγυπτος έχει δεσμευθεί να κατοχυρώσει συνταγματικά τις θεμελιώδεις ελευθερίες και τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα των πολιτών της και προστατεύει τα δικαιώματα των μεταναστών και των περιθωριοποιημένων ατόμων. Συνεργάζεται επίσης και σε θέματα ενεργείας. Μάλιστα η ανακάλυψη του υπεργιγαντιαίου κοιτάσματος ΖΟΡ στην ΑΟΖ της Αιγύπτου θα συμβάλει στην προώθηση της συνεργασίας των δύο αυτών μερών. Τέλος, επισημαίνω ότι η τριμερής συνεργασία της Αιγύπτου με την Ελλάδα και την Κύπρο θα συμβάλει στη σταθερότητα στην περιοχή και στην προώθηση των κοινών σκοπών της εξωτερικής πολιτικής.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Colleagues, from now on and in future, the moment you exceed the time and continue speaking I shall see that as a mark of disrespect to your colleagues, so next time I will cut you off exactly to the second, regardless of the colleague concerned or the political group.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (PPE). – Señor presidente, señor comisario, señorías, Egipto, por su dimensión, por su situación estratégica, por su influencia en la región y en el mundo árabe, por ser miembro del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas, está llamado a ser un socio destacado de la Unión Europea, tanto en su agenda bilateral como ante los problemas globales.

Se ha celebrado en julio la reunión del Consejo de Asociación, y creemos que es una noticia positiva. Estuvo siete años suspendido. Entendemos que en siete años han pasado muchas cosas en Oriente Medio, en Europa y en el mundo. Por eso tenemos que adaptar nuestra agenda de cooperación a la nueva configuración de las amenazas, contribuir a la estabilización de la región —evidentemente, no se podrá conseguir hasta que no haya un avance en el problema de Siria—, superar las diferencias en el Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo y, evidentemente, luchar contra el terrorismo.

Es evidente que la cooperación en el ámbito de la seguridad y la eficiencia energética y de la lucha contra el cambio climático, ambas competencias del comisario Arias Cañete, son también muy importantes. Aquí se ha subrayado la importancia que tiene la nueva cooperación, la ayuda de la Unión Europea, que tiene que situarse en el ámbito de la política de vecindad revisada, y tenemos que avanzar también en los ámbitos que nos propone el Servicio Europeo Acción Exterior: desarrollo y modernización económica y social, comercio e inversión y, desde luego, no por último y por ello menos importante, en el ámbito del respeto de los derechos humanos.

Quiero recordar lo que pasó cuando los Hermanos Musulmanes llegaron al poder por la vía democrática y quiero recordar, señor presidente, ante algunas insinuaciones, que yo renuncié a la jefatura de la misión de observación de las últimas elecciones presidenciales en Egipto.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elena Valenciano (S&D). – Señor presidente, la alta representante, señora Mogherini, ha definido a Egipto como un socio clave para nuestra política exterior común, y mi Grupo también piensa lo mismo: son tantos y tan graves los escenarios que están abiertos en la región, que la colaboración, la cooperación con Egipto aparece como una necesidad imperiosa para la causa de la paz y de la estabilidad.

Es verdad que esta asociación no puede establecerse a cualquier precio. Comparto muchos de los objetivos que marca este Acuerdo de Asociación y, enunciándolos en sentido inverso, empezaré por los derechos humanos.

Egipto tiene que cambiar ese rumbo: no puede seguir adelante con las cárceles llenas de opositores, reprimiendo duramente a la sociedad civil. La Unión Europea no puede consentirlo.

En cuanto a la seguridad, Egipto tiene que seguir echando la llave con mayor eficacia al apoyo al terror, al apoyo financiero al terror.

En política exterior, Egipto debe estar en condiciones de volver a tener el liderazgo en la solución al conflicto entre Israel y Palestina. Su papel en esta cuestión es clave, y Egipto debe caminar y debe definirse como una democracia sin matices, pero está lejos de ello.

Por eso, aunque celebro de nuevo la reanudación de las conversaciones, me parece muy importante que la Unión Europea deje claro que, si va en contra los derechos de los ciudadanos egipcios, no vamos a callarnos.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anders Primdahl Vistisen (ECR). – Hr. formand! Egypten er overordnet set en kerneallieret for Europa, ikke bare en kerneallieret i regionen, men også en venligtsindet og konstruktiv magt, der normalvis arbejder med os i Europa for vores fælles interesser.

Det gælder, når det handler om at modstå terrorisme, om vores fælles sikkerhed, om at skabe stabilitet i en region, der har en direkte indvirkning på vores fred, sikkerhed og stabilitet her i Europa.

Det gælder også, når der er tale om den bredere politik i forhold til Nordafrika og Mellemøsten, senest eksemplificeret ved de egyptiske bestræbelser på at få de palæstinensiske selvstyreområder til at tale bedre sammen og til måske igen at forme en fælles regering, som på sigt vil være den eneste måde, hvorpå en realistisk fredsaftale kan nås mellem Israel og Palæstina.

Vi ved ikke, hvad det vil bringe med sig endnu, men vi ved, at uden Egypten og de arabiske allierede kommer vi ingen vegne.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jean-Luc Schaffhauser (ENF). – Monsieur le Président, l’Égypte est un pôle de stabilité sur une Méditerranée au bord de l’effondrement. La Tunisie est convalescente par rapport au prétendu Printemps arabe, la Libye est un État fantôme, l’Algérie se prépare à une transition lourde de menaces.

Monsieur le Commissaire, vous parlez de sécurité et de développement, et vous rajoutez les droits de l’homme. Méfiez-vous des droits de l’homme qui vont contre la sécurité et le développement parce qu’à la fin, vous n’aurez ni la sécurité, ni le développement, ni les droits de l’homme.

Aussi, il est irresponsable de vouloir déstabiliser l’Égypte, au nom des droits de l’homme, alors que son gouvernement lutte comme il le peut contre le fondamentalisme des Frères musulmans.

Nous sommes, comme beaucoup de pays musulmans, en guerre contre le totalitarisme islamiste. Cela doit être clair pour nous. Dans cette guerre, des hommes comme le maréchal Al-Sissi, le général Haftar ou Bachar El-Assad sont des remparts pour les pays européens, et ceux qui voudront les déstabiliser sont les complices du terrorisme et les ennemis de l’Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, anch'io sono convinto dell'importanza strategica del ruolo dell'Egitto nello scacchiere mediterraneo e ritengo fondamentale che alla base del dialogo ci sia un impegno comune anche sui valori della democrazia e rispetto dei diritti umani, così come sottoscritto nel preambolo del documento del Consiglio di associazione.

Per questo mi chiedo come sia possibile oggi parlare di cooperazione, commercio, investimenti, immigrazione e terrorismo in costanza di pesanti violazioni di tale preambolo da parte dell'Egitto, attraverso politiche repressive in materia di diritti umani. I casi come quelli di Ibrahim Metwaly, avvocato impegnato sul fronte dei diritti e impegnato nella triste vicenda di Giulio Regeni, per la quale si è fortemente battuto per ottenere verità, detenuto in condizioni disumane o come quello dei suoi colleghi Ahmad Amasha Hanan e Badr el-Din. Sono casi questi, come tanti altri, che sono lì a dimostrare che noi abbiamo il dovere di intervenire, utilizzando anche gli strumenti che il partenariato offre perché vengano rilasciati e l'Egitto cambia registro sui diritti umani.

Signor Commissario, capisco il realismo politico ma quando esso fa tabula rasa dei principi morali, il problema si pone e con forza. Dobbiamo essere consapevoli che la coerenza e la credibilità della politica estera europea si misurano anche da come affrontiamo questi problemi.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Neena Gill (S&D). – Mr President, this House has shown extraordinary patience with Egypt, which is considered a key partner by many in the House. But I believe it is time we made up our mind. Can we stand by a partner where nearly 400 activists and dissidents have disappeared off the radar since August 2016? Where students like Giulio Regeni are murdered in cold blood? Where 22 people are arrested for waving rainbow flags, and where rockets are bought from North Korea?

I share the concerns outlined by the High Representative over the economy and the ticking time bomb of youth unemployment, but we cannot let Egypt be the sole decider in our partnership, excluding any cooperation on the rule of law and fundamental rights. I have two questions to the Commissioner. Firstly, our total ongoing assistance to Egypt is worth EUR 11 billion. What are we doing to leverage this? Secondly, what measures have been taken to follow up on the resolution adopted last year following Regeni’s murder to stop companies from exploiting technology that contributes to human rights violations in Egypt?

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elly Schlein (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, parliamo di partnership tra UE ed Egitto: ma quale partnership può esserci con un paese che calpesta quotidianamente i diritti fondamentali e senza verità sulla tortura e la barbara uccisione di un giovane ricercatore europeo, Giulio Regeni: oggi sono 20 mesi che chiediamo verità senza ottenerla.

Le autorità egiziane non hanno mai collaborato efficacemente nelle indagini. E questa è sì una battaglia per Giulio ma anche per tanti altri ed altre che in Egitto trovano la stessa sorte. Continuano le sparizioni forzate, le gravi intimidazioni ai danni dei legali che assistono la famiglia di Giulio in Egitto, non ultimo l'arresto di Ibrahim Metwaly, e il tentativo di chiudere gli uffici della Commissione egiziana per i diritti umani e le libertà.

I genitori di Giulio sono stati in questo Parlamento un anno fa e hanno chiesto cose precise, rimanendo inascoltati: interrompere l'invio di armi e di materiale per lo spionaggio, non considerare l'Egitto un paese sicuro, interrompere i rimpatri.

Ecco, è scandalosa la mancanza di solidarietà da parte degli altri paesi europei che hanno continuato tranquillamente a commerciare, anche armi, con l'Egitto e Tusk, quando incontra al-Sisi a New York, parla solo di collaborare per fermare i migranti.

Se l'UE chiude un occhio sul rispetto dei diritti umani, ha finito di esistere.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Κώστας Μαυρίδης (S&D). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Επίτροπε, οι προτεραιότητες και οι φιλοδοξίες μας στην εταιρική μας σχέση με την Αίγυπτο πρέπει να εξυπηρετούν και τους λαούς μας στις δύο πλευρές της Μεσογείου. Ανάπτυξη αφενός, αλλά και ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη και αξιοπρεπή διαβίωση. Οικονομική ανάπτυξη και τεχνική βοήθεια από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, αλλά, ταυτοχρόνως, και απαιτήσεις για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και το κράτος δικαίου. Αυτά συμβαδίζουν με ισορροπημένο τρόπο. Όντως η Αίγυπτος έχει να επιδείξει ουσιαστική πρόοδο σε πολλούς τομείς, περιλαμβανομένων και των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων, αλλά, ταυτοχρόνως, υπάρχουν και αναπάντητα ερωτήματα στα οποία πρέπει να απαντήσει.

Δύο προκλήσεις όμως είναι κυρίαρχες στην ατζέντα μας: τρομοκρατία και ενεργειακή ασφάλεια. Κλείνω, λοιπόν, με μία πρόταση: η σταθερότητα της κυβέρνησης el-Sisi είναι θεμέλιο για τα κοινά μας συμφέροντα.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Τάκης Χατζηγεωργίου (GUE/NGL). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, συμφωνούμε χωρίς καμιά αμφιβολία στο άνοιγμα διαύλων επικοινωνίας με την Αίγυπτο και το ίδιο αναμένουμε να γίνει και με άλλες χώρες της περιοχής. Κυρίως, όμως, νομίζουμε πως οιαδήποτε οικονομική ή άλλη σχέση πρέπει να προσφέρει στον ίδιο τον αιγυπτιακό λαό, με περισσότερο βάρος στις ευάλωτες ομάδες. Ιδιαίτερα στεκόμαστε απέναντι στα αιτήματα των νέων της Αιγύπτου για πραγματική δημοκρατία και ελευθερία. Χρειάζεται, ως εκ τούτου, ενδελεχής έρευνα σε σχέση με τα βασικά ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα. Να καταπολεμηθεί στη χώρα κάθε βάναυση συμπεριφορά απέναντι σε ευάλωτες ομάδες.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Eleonora Forenza (GUE/NGL). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, come hanno già detto alcuni colleghi precedentemente, penso che sia assurdo discutere in quest'Aula di Egitto e di cooperazione con l'Egitto senza mettere al centro il tema della costante violazione dei diritti umani. La famiglia di Regeni, i genitori di Giulio Reggiani, proprio un anno fa, come ricordava la collega Schlein, hanno chiesto qui al Parlamento europeo di prendere una posizione sull'Egitto, sul suo continuo silenzio sull'omicidio di Giulio Regni e sulle torture che ha subito in Egitto.

Continuare a considerare l'Egitto un paese sicuro, continuare a far finta di niente, al solo fine di garantire che l'Egitto continui a impedire ai migranti di arrivare in Europa è un crimine, un crimine che la storia non perdonerà all'Unione europea, così come non le perdonerà il silenzio sulla violazione dei diritti umani in Libia e su quello che continua a fare Israele.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Malin Björk (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, like my colleagues, I am very worried about the situation for human rights defenders and human rights activists. I have met numerous women’s rights activists who are subject to extreme persecution at the moment.

But today I want to raise the specific situation of LGBTI persons being persecuted. I am sure you have seen the reports of this increasing persecution: of 33 or more youths being detained, of sexual assault in detention and of violence. It is also a question of when the authorities perpetrate this kind of violence. Public violence and hate speech against LGBTI people in Egypt are rampant and increasing, and we have reports on that. The EU must act against these human rights abuses. To say that we are passing on the message, Mr Commissioner, is just not enough: you don’t pass on the message about human rights – you demand that human rights be respected! We need a different kind of partnership.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Before I give the floor to the Commissioner I would like to express my appreciation for one thing across the political spectrum today, namely the emphasis on respect for human rights and on the clause in international agreements. I would appreciate it if we remembered this debate, because sometimes some of us deviate from that central principal. I note this with much appreciation, but we need to apply it across the board, with all international agreements.

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Miguel Arias Cañete, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, I think this has been a very useful exchange and I thank the honourable Members for their contributions.

Many of you have addressed the different problems relating to human rights. Human rights are an integral part of our partnership priorities and we address the situation not only through bilateral dialogue, silent diplomacy and formal demands, but also through public statements, including in multilateral forums such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The European Union, in its position for the EU-Egypt Association Council, has raised clear concerns regarding the blocking of websites and the ongoing pressure on human rights organisations and defenders. It calls on Egypt to comply with its commitments to promote freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as the freedom of the press, as guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and according to its international obligations. This position was also expressed in the recent European Union statement at the Human Rights Council, under item 4.

Some of you referred to the case of the Egyptian lawyer Ibrahim Metwaly. This is a case that the European Union is following very closely, and one we have raised with our Egyptian counterparts at a high level both in Cairo and in Brussels. We have stressed the need to allow human rights defenders to carry on their work, including cooperation with the United Nations human rights agencies and mechanisms, without intimidation or harassment, in line with Egypt’s international obligations and with the guarantees enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. This message, as well as the need to shed light on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni, was clearly expressed in our statement to the Association Council, and in the recent European Union statement at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

You can count on us to continue to insist on this in our contacts with our Egyptian counterparts at all levels.

Some of you also referred to the LGBTI situation. The present position is that the arrest of an increasing number of people after the concert of rock band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo and sentences of one to six years in prison for so-called ‘practices of debauchery’ are not in line with Egypt’s commitments to promote freedom of expression as guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution, nor with Egypt’s international obligations.

Freedom of expression is essential in a democratic society, and we call on Egypt to take active measures to promote it and to abide by its national and international commitments in that regard. The European Union wishes to reaffirm its commitment to freedom of expression, and to the quality and dignity of all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Finally, regarding the situation of Ibrahim Halawa, his acquittal is welcome news and a relief for his family, for Ireland and for the European Union. The Commission was particularly pleased to hear that Ibrahim was finally acquitted after four years in pre-trial detention. This is a case that the European Union has been following very closely and one we have actively raised with the Egyptian authorities, in coordination with and support of the Irish Government’s efforts. Nonetheless we remain concerned about the use of a mass trial in which 442 defendants received heavy prison sentences: this is not in line with Egypt’s human rights obligations. The European Union looks forward to the appeals and expects Egypt to uphold its national and international commitments to due process and fair trials.

To conclude this debate, I think that we all agree on the importance of our partnership with Egypt, even if there are different views on how to take it forward. As I have stressed before, we now need to approach it in a coherent and comprehensive way in order to make the best out of it in the interests of Egyptians and Europeans. We will continue to look at how best to achieve progress on the four tracks of our partnership, and to use all the instruments available to us to foster a system of stability, growth and social and economic development in the country. We count, too, on Parliament’s support to contribute to the success of this partnership and its concrete impact on our people.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – The debate is closed.

 
Last updated: 21 November 2017Legal notice