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Wednesday, 15 September 2004 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Situation in Iraq

  Beer (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Commissioner Patten most warmly for his clear statement at the end. Commissioner, you have made it clear that our debate today is not just about Iraq, but must also consider an overall political approach. It has become apparent that Europe’s essential interest must lie, above all, in finding a peaceful solution for Iraq, and not only for Iraq, but also for the region as a whole. We have to develop a coherent policy for Iraq, Iran, Syria, and, of course, for Israel and Palestine. Any solution will be difficult, but, as we progress towards one, we should make use of this debate for clarification and analysis, even though we do not yet know what the definite answers will be.

As far as Iraq is concerned, we have seen unbounded violence over the past months, with pre-emptive strikes on the part of the allies; Guantanamo; Abu Ghraib with all the dreadful attempts to justify torture; fearful terrorist attacks; the execution of innocent hostages; and hostages held right up to the present day. In this context, let me mention another report that has shocked me today, the report of a secret service according to which Syria is alleged to have tested chemical weapons on Sudanese. All these acts of untrammelled force we condemn as a matter of fundamental conviction; not only that, we combat them, and have recorded our condemnation of them in the European Constitution.

So where do we stand today? Following yesterday’s cruel attack, which left many – over sixty – people dead, a look at the press may reflect the differences and the bewilderment in the political world. ‘Get out of Iraq!’, says the Berner Zeitung; Le Figaro says that the ‘USA must wage war to the end’; the Kurier reports that ‘Iraq is falling apart before its occupiers’ eyes’, and that ‘Bush has announced that the money intended for security purposes is to be used now, instead of for securing the people’s water supply’.

Where do our responsibilities lie, and where do we go from here? Despite all our differences, we must, I believe, try to join together in establishing political responsibility. I think we must become credible, for without credibility we will have no popular support and the United Nations will not be strengthened. That involves condemning what we have to condemn, and doing everything possible to prepare, by all democratic means, for free elections as soon as possible, so that the people of Iraq may be sovereign once more.

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