Opening remarks: remembering victims of Fukushima, terrorism, and Syria's uprising
The 11 March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was caused by humans, and could have been prevented, said EP President Martin Schulz in his plenary opening address. Marking the 11 March remembrance day for victims of terrorism, he condemned "cowardly, anonymous" attacks like that on Madrid in 2004. He also condemned the killing of thousands of Syrians by President Bashar al-Assad's "brutal dictatorship" since the start of the Arab Spring.
Though the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were tragic natural disasters, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl was caused by humans. Fukushima could have been prevented, said Mr Schulz.
On 11 March 2011, Japan was devastated by a triple catastrophe a massive earthquake, then 20-metre high Tsunami which destroyed a 400 km-long coastal strip, and a day later, the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which led to a reactor meltdown.
The President voiced Parliament's sympathy for the 19,000 people who lost their lives, the thousands more who lost family members and friends, and the many thousands more whom, fleeing radiation, had lost their homes and home localities forever. He praised the courage of the anonymous workers, who risked their lives to get the damaged reactors under control.
Turning to Europe, Mr Schulz noted that 30% of its energy comes from nuclear power. Although energy decisions are a matter for each Member State, power grids are interconnected, and nuclear safety concerns us all, he said.
Mr Schulz reiterated his demand that any of the 130 EU nuclear power plants that fails the current stress tests should immediately be removed from the network.
Marking the 11 March remembrance day for victims of terrorism, Mr Schulz voiced Parliament's solidarity with all victims of terrorism, from Bologna to London, and in particular the families and friends of the 200 killed and several thousand injured in the 11 March 2004 terrorist attack on Madrid.
He condemned these "disgusting, cowardly, anonymous" attacks and said that everything possible should be done to support their victims.
Mr Schulz also remembered the thousands of people killed in the "open war" unleashed by the "brutal dictatorship" of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad against its own people since the start of the Arab spring. "The bloodshed is not stopping", he added, urging Mr al-Assad to at least allow humanitarian assistance to reach civilians.
The EU's foreign policy high representative and international society should also back the efforts of Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council to ensure that "the right things are done" he added.
A minute's silence was held for all these victims.
Mr Schulz noted that the Legal Affairs Committee had approved the credentials of Emer Costello (S&D, IE), Phil Bennion (ALDE, UK) and Nikos Chrysogelos (Greens/EFA, EL).
Mr Schulz also noted that Roger Helmer had switched from the ECR to the EFD group.
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