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Debates
Wednesday, 22 March 2006 - Brussels OJ edition

Criteria for EU peace-keeping operations, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo (debate)
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  Angelika Beer, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, the debate over the last few weeks has laid bare the whole dilemma of the lack of political direction here. It would be wrong for us simply to try and gloss over that.

Since UN Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno’s letter of 27 December about military engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which fell during the turn of the year holiday period and came as a surprise even to the Security Council, 12 weeks have passed and there are still more questions than answers. There is still a yawning gap between words and deeds. We remain to be convinced. We do not support the joint resolution, and let me explain why.

We in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance are of course in favour of supporting the process of democratisation in Congo. But how has it happened that the issue of EU involvement has been reduced to military deployment in Kinshasa and counting soldiers? How is it that we find ourselves discussing sending soldiers but not the issue of a large number of EU electoral observers? How is it that the whole range of actions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy is not being investigated? How is it that every single day new justifications emerge, such as Europe’s interest in refugee refusal? I ask you, what has all that got to do with facilitating democratic elections in Congo?

These verbose discussions in recent weeks have raised the question of whether the planned deployment in Kinshasa is actually about democratisation or whether it is really about the EU saving face. I say saving face because the dynamic set in train by the inquiry has taken on a life of its own. Months have passed since the inquiry and the inconclusive fact-finding mission to Congo and since New York, yet there is still no sign of a political plan or a clear task.

Ladies and gentlemen, a fine gesture by Mr Chirac cannot conceal the issues that have still not been addressed, that is to say how is dispatching 1 500 soldiers to Kinshasa going to guarantee free elections throughout Congo? How can we refute the accusation that we are taking Kabila's side? How can the EU play a role in Congo as a whole in the wake of a deployment of this kind? And if the issue is evacuation, and that has become the vital topic, who is actually to be evacuated? Do we need UN-mandated troops to be deployed in order to further the cause of democracy in the Congo?

My final point, ladies and gentlemen, is a very fundamental one. We talk so passionately here about Europe’s responsibility towards Africa, yet how can we reconcile today’s debate with our failure to act on the continuing genocide in Darfur?

 
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