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Debates
Monday, 26 September 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

12. One-minute speeches on matters of political importance
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  President. – The next item is one-minute speeches on matters of political importance.

 
  
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  Marianne Thyssen (PPE-DE). – (NL) Mr President, today is European Day of Languages. We are celebrating the language diversity that is part of our cultural heritage and makes for a richer society. Even as a young girl, I knew the following proverb: ‘The number of languages you speak is the number of times you are human’. This proverb also appears to be known on the Commission website where Commissioner Figel' makes a statement. That should encourage this House to give maximum support to sound programmes that promote the teaching of languages to as many people as possible.

We in this House should, however, also realise that compliance with internal rules in the area of language diversity is an expression of respect for each human being and contributes to our institution’s democratic functioning. That is why I think it important, even though I do not have much time available to me, to draw your special attention to two issues.

First of all, we must continue to make every effort in order to give all those who work in our House, Members and officials, the opportunity of attending language courses and secondly, you must encourage our officials to continue to respect our internal language rules to the letter and spirit. Whatever we do, we must not slip into the example the Council has given us, in the light of ... (the President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (PSE). – Mr President, public transport is important to all our local communities. In Scotland, ferries provide an essential service to some of the European Union's most peripheral and vulnerable communities. This week I will be welcoming a delegation representing the CalMac trade unions to the European Parliament, who will be meeting the transport Commissioner on Wednesday.

Presently these ferry services are being put out to tender in communities where they are the sole mode of transport connecting island communities to the mainland. Under the latest Commission proposals for land transport public service obligations, public administrations will be given flexibility over tendering processes and will be able to award certain services to in-house operators directly. Why, then, are lifeline ferries being treated differently to trains, trams and metros? There are no trains, trams and metros in Scotland's peripheral island communities. The position of the Commission would appear to be contradictory and I urge the Commission to clarify its position. Lifeline ferry services are too important to be ignored.

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE). – Mr President, I would like to share with you my concern about yet another example of a shocking homophobic speech in one of the national parliaments of an EU Member State. In this case we are talking about the Parliament of Latvia, which is discussing the implementation of Article 13 – on European anti-discrimination legislation – as well as a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. I note that not even George Bush dares go that far.

I would like to appeal to our colleagues in the Latvian Parliament to conduct their debate with dignity, to condemn hate speeches and to remember that Latvia, like the other Member States, has signed up to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It has also ratified the EU Constitution, which forbids discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

 
  
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  Mary Lou McDonald (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, colleagues, as you may already be aware, the Irish Republican Army has taken another initiative to assist peace in Ireland. Today's courageous decision to verifiably and definitively dispose of its weaponry represents a major advance for the peace process in Ireland.

The enormity of what the IRA has done should neither be underestimated nor undervalued. I should like to take this opportunity to praise the IRA for taking risks when others shirked their responsibilities.

An enormous responsibility has now been placed on both the British and Irish Governments to finally implement the Good Friday agreement in all its aspects, on issues such as equality, human rights, policing, demilitarisation and indeed northern representation in the Oireachtas. The Democratic Unionist Party, one of whose members is elected to this Parliament, must re-engage with the peace process. No possible excuse now exists for them not to sit down ...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Dariusz Maciej Grabowski (IND/DEM). – (PL) Mr President, the signature of the agreement to build an undersea gas pipeline across the Baltic was accompanied by shots of President Putin of Russia locked in a warm embrace with Chancellor Schröder of Germany. This display of affection took place against the background of two major threats to peace and the security of the world’s economy. I refer to international terrorism and the price increases and instability affecting the market in raw materials for energy production. Everyone is aware that this situation calls for cooperation at global level. Unfortunately, just when the European Union should be setting an example of collective wisdom and solidarity between countries, Chancellor Schröder and President Putin trumpet abroad an unambiguous statement to the effect that all they care about is promoting the selfish interests of Germany and Russia. The fact that the countries across whose marine economic area the gas pipeline is to run were not informed or consulted illustrates the respect in which both countries hold the international law of the sea.

We are firmly convinced that the agreement on building the gas pipeline was devised to be detrimental to several Member States of the European Union. Poland, the Baltic States and other countries will be forced to submit to Russian control of their energy supplies. The agreement also suggests a clear association …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (NI). – (PL) Mr President, there are only 15 months left before the start of the Union's first new seven–year budgetary period. Despite the Union's agreed rules and conventions, however, we still do not have a draft budget. The Union is drifting rudderless across a budgetary ocean, so to speak. Each successive month of delay results in needless tension and unease, and gives rise to distrust between the old and new Member States.

By failing to produce a budget, the Union is sending out the wrong kind of message to its future members and its external partners. It is presenting itself as weak, lacking vision for the future and the political will to work together in solidarity in order to build that future. This situation does not suggest stalemate, to borrow an expression from the game of chess. Rather, it suggests checkmate for the idea of a truly united Europe that is not split into a first and second class Europe according to wealth or historical legacy.

I call on the Council and the UK Presidency to ensure that work on the budget is concluded at the earliest opportunity.

 
  
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  Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, Poland is into its second year of membership of the European Union, but the outlook for Polish farmers is getting steadily worse, not better.

Polish soft fruit growers account for 50% of production in Europe, yet they are on the verge of bankruptcy. The same is true of Polish potato growers, who are the main producers of this crop in the Union, and of producers of cereals and textile plants. It will not be long before producers of pork, milk and sugar beet find themselves in the same situation, and I would remind you that Poland is the third most important producer of sugar beet in Europe. Members of this House do understand the situation, but the same is not true of the European Commission, which tends to ignore Parliament and disregard the decisions it takes. This was what happened in the case of the report on starch production, for example.

The planned reform of the market in sugar will mean a reduction of more than 42% in the price of sugar beet, which will make it uneconomic to produce. It would appear that the European Commission is more concerned about Chinese and Moroccan soft fruit growers and about Brazilian sugar producers than about farmers and producers in the new Member States. The question arises as to why the European Commission and the Commissioner himself are pursuing a policy that is detrimental to farmers in the Member States, and why decisions taken by the European Parliament are being disregarded.

 
  
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  Antonio Masip Hidalgo (PSE). – (ES) Mr President, I am taking the floor on behalf of Mr Pittella, from Italy, and Mrs Madeira, from Portugal, to ask the Presidency-in-Office of the Council, in the proposals on the financial perspective that it is to present, to reincorporate the criteria proposed by the Commission on the regions affected by the statistical effect, with regard to the need to support them without any shameful discrimination amongst them, since, as I said in this very House on 9 March, this is a question of dignity, of making European policy comprehensible, of making it egalitarian, balanced and democratic, faithful to its roots and to its ambitions.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words on this truly historic day for Ireland. In July of this year, the IRA called on its units to dump their arms and today we have verification that those words have been translated into action. Yes, there are still many bridges to cross, but today, in my opinion, we have crossed the Rubicon.

There will be difficulties ahead; there are peace breakers on both sides who will try to derail this process. Massive support must therefore be given to peace builders, to ordinary people who on a day-to-day basis begin to build trust and seek out a shared future. We salute all of those, on both sides and none, who helped to bring us to this day. In the European Parliament, I wish to applaud the positive and supportive role of the European Union in this process.

Finally, on this day we remember the victims and their families whose lives have been shattered. For them today comes too late, but for the rest of us it is hopefully a beginning.

 
  
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  Mirosław Mariusz Piotrowski (IND/DEM). – (PL) Mr President, we have recently become aware of the signature of an agreement between Germany and Russia concerning the building of a gas pipeline in the north of Europe, routed across the Baltic. Clearly, this is more than a significant economic agreement. It has an equally important political dimension. Poland and the Baltic States have been bypassed, much to the detriment of the national interests of countries that are part of the same structure, namely the European Union. Once again, the Union’s common economic and foreign policies have proved to be so much hot air, and many commentators and politicians are already likening the agreement signed recently to the 1939 Ribbentrop–Molotov pact.

I call on Germany to comply with the procedures binding on all Member States and clarify the situation. I also call for the information provided to be made available to the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Zaleski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, Europe is capable of showing solidarity, as it demonstrated in connection with the tragic events in Portugal. Europe’s leaders can, however, behave selfishly at times, as was the case when Mr Chirac, Mr Schröder and Mr Putin met in Kaliningrad, a curious part of Russian territory. Subsequently, Mr Schröder and Mr Putin acted selfishly when they signed the agreement to build the gas pipeline. It is alleged that the purpose of the pipeline is to guarantee Germany’s energy supply, but that is only half the story. What Mr Schröder is about is supporting Mr Putin’s ‘divide and rule’ policy, which amounts to weakening the Union. The European Parliament should stand up for Europe and denounce this act for what it really is.

Europe needs decisions that transcend local interests. It will never become integrated if we do not adopt cohesive policies. It would be like trying to build a brick house without using any mortar.

 
  
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  Panagiotis Beglitis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, we have received particularly worrying information over recent days from Turkish non-governmental human rights organisations about the prosecution and sentencing of Turkish journalists.

I refer not only to the case of the author Orhan Pamuk, but also to the case of the journalist Emin Karaca, who has been sentenced to five months in prison for violating Article 301, paragraph 2, of the recently revised penal code. I also refer to other cases of journalists prosecuted under the same Article.

In light of this situation, I call on the European Parliament and, more importantly, its President to take an immediate initiative addressed to the Turkish prime minister, Mr Erdogan, and to the speaker of the Turkish National Assembly, Mr Arinc, calling for prosecutions to cease and for freedom of speech to be respected, and to the UK Presidency and the European Commission ...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Marios Matsakis (ALDE). – Mr President, although I am a firm believer in the use of a common working language of communication, I accept and respect the right of every MEP to listen and speak in his or her own national language. What I cannot accept, however, is the fact that more than a year after the accession of ten new Member States, there is still at least one parliamentary committee in which no interpretation for certain new Member State languages is provided, and that colleagues from these states are unable to take part in the deliberations of these committees using their official mother tongue. This obviously puts these colleagues at an unfair disadvantage. It is not an acceptable state of affairs and I call on you to reassure the House, on this day of linguistic freedom, that this regrettable situation will be remedied as soon as possible and that it will not arise again when the next two new Member States join the EU in the near future.

 
  
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  Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM). – Mr President, one quarter of the Irish GDP is tied up in construction. We could say that Ireland is a country under construction. However, in many of the villages around the cities of my constituency, houses are being thrown up with no thought for utilities, for enough water or sewage, or for the important elements of social infrastructure. Children spend their whole education in Portakabins. Often there are no sports fields or crèches and few shops. Rural villages quickly become dormitory towns with no sense of community. Is that alright with Europe? Does it tally with rural development? I need answers for the people of Watergrass Hill, Glenville and other towns: the people who are struggling with life in shiny new clusters of houses with no soul.

 
  
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  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, I should like to take advantage of today's celebration of the European Day of Languages to express my concern about the lack of teaching of their mother tongue to the children of nationals of the Member States who move and establish in other Member States of the Union, with the result that these children forget their language of origin and, at the same time, their cultural identity.

The linguistic assimilation which children and young Europeans undergo when they re-establish, especially those whose mother tongue is less widely spoken than the European languages spoken by millions of European citizens, does not help to maintain the linguistic diversity which the European Union alleges that it wishes to maintain.

I call on the Commission, within the framework of the new strategy on multilingualism, to monitor the effective application of Directive 77/486/ΕEC of 25 July 1977 on the education of the children of migrant workers ...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today Europe is celebrating an important date: the European Day of Languages. This event, first held in 2001, involves the European Union and, above all, the Council of Europe, which has planned events throughout Europe.

Today we welcome here our new Romanian and Bulgarian colleagues; with them, Bulgarian and Romanian will join our Community family of languages on 1 January 2007, raising the number of official languages from 20 to 22.

For us Europeans, language is synonymous with culture and history and hence with a vast historical and cultural heritage. I wonder, then, whether it would not be appropriate for us, as the European Parliament, at last to promote a constructive reform of the language regime within the Community institutions. I am certainly delighted at the arrival of the new languages and especially of those that will soon become part of our daily work, but on the other hand I am extremely concerned at the chaos and lack of written rules, as has been confirmed to me by the European Commission.

 
  
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  Magda Kósáné Kovács (PSE). (HU) Mr President, a man died. He had been known as a merciless avenger by many, even though he had been seeking justice, not revenge. He was motivated by the conviction that if people who had committed crimes can leave the past behind without any consequences, this past would return, poisoning both the present and the future. Simon Wiesenthal died.

He was human and sometimes made mistakes. But he could not come to terms with the fact that Europe, the new world building a collective future based on its common values, had already been united once in the past. United in the assumption of racial superiority, in condemnation, ostracism and hatred. A 96-year-old man passed away. His legacy to us is the knowledge that contempt for another human being and taking human lives should never be allowed to unite Europe again. Let us think of him when we work to ensure that the unity of the new Europe is based on equal treatment and equal opportunities. In remembrance of him we ask the Committee that in paragraph 13 ... (The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Nikolaos Sifunakis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, I should like to apprise plenary of a very serious matter.

As we speak, the Turkish authorities are in the final stage of constructing a dam. This dam, which is scheduled for completion on 15 November, in other words in fewer than 50 days from today, will result in the flooding and definitive loss of one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia Minor today.

I refer to Allianoi, a Roman spa centre which lies 18 kilometres from the town of Bergama.

The archaeological site of Allianoi consists of an entire complex of spas which, it would appear, complemented the famous Bergama Asklepion.

I believe that the European Parliament should take a stand on the question of this loss and, given that the Commission's reply was unsatisfactory, I propose that the President of Parliament write to the Turkish president calling for a halt to work to complete the dam, which will result in the definitive loss of a piece of European cultural heritage.

 
  
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  Avril Doyle (PPE-DE). – Mr President, in the presence of Commissioner McCreevy and his colleagues, I would like to put down a marker about the Commission's proposed reform of the sugar regime. Contrary to received wisdom, global sugar consumption already outstrips demand.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization forecast world sugar consumption at 145 million tonnes for 2004 and 2005, with production at 143 million tonnes. World sugar consumption next year is said to reach 149 million tonnes, with per capita consumption in China alone expected to increase from its current 10 kilograms to the EU level of 35 kilograms in the medium term. In Brazil the consumption per capita is already 50 kilograms. In addition the availability of irrigation water in developing countries and elsewhere is decreasing, and this will dictate a swing away from the cultivation of sugar cane, a water-intensive crop. Factor in the inevitable impact on sugar cane consumption patterns by the projected increases in gasohol as oil prices rise and alternative biofuel technologies become mainstream. Sugar may increasingly become a strategic commodity. The world is facing a long-term surge in demand.

 
  
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  Marta Vincenzi (PSE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I take the floor with regard to the situation in Western Sahara. In August, the Polisario Front freed the last Moroccan prisoners of war. That is a positive step, which has met with the approval of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, President Bush and the whole international community.

The same is not happening, however, with those detained in Moroccan jails: the physical condition of the tens of Sahrawi detainees on hunger strike is now critical, according to Amnesty International reports. Among them are women and men who are standing up for human rights. Europe must not remain silent, but must take decisive steps to secure the freedom of those upholding human rights; to ensure that Morocco, the Sahrawi who have stayed in Western Sahara and the refugees reach an agreement to live in peace, working together to create the new democratic Arab-Sahrawi Republic; and to ensure that they no longer live in exile or in prison.

 
  
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  Christopher Beazley (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I also wish to welcome our Romanian colleagues, in particular to my own group, from the Romanian Democratic Party, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania and the Romanian Conservative Party. The observers will clearly be learning the way that we work, which may be rather complicated, but I also believe that we should learn from Romania's history. Romania has suffered from Fascism under the Iron Guard and from Communism under Ceausescu.

However, because it is politically convenient, many people have forgotten that Bessarabia was illegally invaded by Stalin with the complicity of Hitler. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives or were exiled, and that part of Romania was subjected. Certain chapters in the history of Central and Eastern Europe have been forgotten and we have to look at them. We should not make this an obsession, but we must draw conclusions and look to the future. Romania before Communism and Fascism was one of great prosperity, with the Anglo-Romanian oil company and significant investment from France.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (PSE). – Mr President, members from across national borders and political boundaries are in support of John Packwood, who faces extradition from Spain to Morocco, which is something that could not happen to a Spanish citizen. This is, of course, a violation of the equal treatment of EU citizens, enshrined in the Treaty. It is discrimination which I call most strongly on the Commission and the President to oppose by making representations to the Spanish Government before the extradition deadline.

A case must be allowed to be developed that can go to the Court of Human Rights, but this is also being denied as matters are being pushed through quickly. He is a desperate man facing a desperate plight and he needs all our support. I urge you to help in this case.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE-DE). – Mr President, on 15 September a Russian fighter plane carrying four missiles entered Lithuanian airspace and crashed near the city of Kaunas. It was part of a group of six fighters accompanying a Russian spy plane from St Petersburg to Kaliningrad. It was a most serious incident in a long series of violations of Finnish and Baltic airspace by Russian planes. On the eve of the EU-Russia summit I should like to ask the Commission how systematic violation by Russian planes of the borders of EU Member States can be tallied with the common values upon which the EU-Russia partnership is officially based. Is not the integrity of the EU's eastern border part of our common foreign and security policy?

As for Kaliningrad, is it not in the interests of all parties to start to find ways to demilitarise this last vestige of the Cold War in Europe?

 
  
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  Ljudmila Novak (PPE-DE) . – (SL) In 1940, as the threat of war loomed, Italy removed from the territory of Slovenian Istria, Koper, Izola and Piran works of art that had been created in those locations under commission from the Church and private individuals. The works were produced by Italian masters.

Just as Yugoslavia did previously, the Slovenian state has made intensive efforts on behalf of the owners to secure the return of these priceless works. Italy has avoided taking this matter seriously and rejects all efforts from the Slovenian side for a diplomatic resolution to the problem.

Therefore on 22 September this year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again sent a Note Verbale communicating its renewed request for a diplomatic resolution to this issue. Italy is bound by international treaty to return everything that it removed from occupied territory, and for this reason we justifiably expect these works of art to be returned to Slovenia.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

 
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