Full text 
Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 - Brussels OJ edition

20. One-minute speeches (Rule 144)

  President. The next item is the one-minute speeches on topical and urgent matters of major importance.


  Zsolt László Becsey (PPE-DE).(HU) In my home region, the southern counties of the Hungarian Plains, there was a great outcry about the discovery by police of a huge amount of communal trash, 5 000 tonnes so far, probably originating in Germany. The investigation is continuing, with cooperation on the part of the Germans. But the fact is that such a quantity of garbage, and who knows how much more, is certainly missing from Germany. This cannot go unnoticed by the meticulous German public administrations. Events like this, though forbidden by EU regulations, are spreading as a result of the free movement of goods, and seriously undermine in my home region the value placed on EU membership.

Besides, some German and Austrian firms have already caused numerous scandals in Hungary by putting on the market through large chain-stores food items past their sell-by date, exploiting the thrifty shopping habits of those people in the new Member States who struggle with huge problems of livelihood.

This demands intervention not only by German and Austrian authorities, but the European Commission should call not only for more restrained governance in Member States waiting to adopt the euro: consumer protection calls for increased numbers of staff.


  Józef Pinior (PSE). – (PL) Mr President, at this time we are saying our farewells to the late Ryszard Kapuściński, one of the greatest writers of modern times. In his reports from every corner of the world, and indeed throughout the whole of his work, Ryszard Kapuściński told the truth about the world in the second half of the 20th century and the start of the present one. His books record his testimony of the end of colonialism in the late sixties, the fall of the dictatorships in the eighties and both the bright and dark sides of the globalisation we are now experiencing.

Ryszard Kapuściński was a model reporter and thinker; a journalist committed to the poor and oppressed. He was a free-thinking intellectual, unfettered by any power system. He consistently defended freedom and democracy – in Latin America, Africa, Ethiopia, Iran and Poland. His presence at the Gdańsk shipyard during the 1980 general strike demonstrated his solidarity with the Polish workers’ struggle for trade union rights and democracy. Polish and European culture are the poorer for the passing of Ryszard Kapuściński.


  Marco Pannella (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have just received news yet again that women, children, men looking for work, and civilian authorities have been murdered in Baghdad. By whom? By a gang of extremely well-organised criminals, about whom nothing is known.

One section of international opinion calls them insurgents, but they are criminals, who are being protected even by the authorities. Paul Bremer, the first Iraqi administrator, once said that first of all there would be a moratorium on the death penalty and then recognition of the International Criminal Court. Instead, Iraq today does not recognise the International Criminal Court and there is no chance at all that this gang of murderers will be prosecuted under the law.

I would not want today’s Iraq to be a country that upholds such a situation instead of combating it.


  Věra Flasarová (GUE/NGL).(CS) US military propaganda talks in terms of world terrorism, the axis of evil and the need to deliver security. In the past, it was said that 'if you want peace then prepare for war’. Perhaps the phrase should now be 'If you are preparing for war, talk about safeguarding peace.’ I fear that the Czech public has been duped into believing that the USA’s radar base on Czech territory will help protect the world from unspecified threats. I believe that the US’s military bases, including those in the Czech Republic, or wherever they may be in Europe, do not actually lead to security, but, rather, threaten the security of the Czech Republic and other European countries, exacerbate tensions, increase the need for arms and significantly worsen relations with Russia both on a political level and with regard to the energy situation. The current Czech Government is either oblivious to these risks or lacks the courage to stand up to the USA. The Czech public is aware of the danger, as, I am sure, is a large proportion of the EU population, who do not feel the need to be dragged into the USA’s bellicose plans.


  Димитър Стоянов (ITS). – (BG) Искам да запозная Парламента с най-новото развитие по случая с българските медици в Либия. Вчера срещу българските медицински сестри е било повдигнато ново обвинение за клевета срещу техните мъчители. Тоест, казано по друг начин, сега циничният либийски режим обвинява българските сестри за това, че те са били изнасилвани и тормозени в продължение на дни и седмици.

В същото време синът на либийския диктатор Кадафи, Сейф ал Ислам, необезпокояван обикаля из територията на Европейския съюз. В същото време страни като Германия, Франция и Италия търгуват за милиарди с този диктаторски режим. Време е да сложим край на двойните стандарти! Време е да бъдат наложени истински икономически санкции срещу Либия! Време е диктаторът Кадафи да бъде бойкотиран! Време е да няма програма, аз съм против, и не трябва да има програма „Петрол срещу човешки живот”. И този Парламент трябва да защити това!


  Jim Allister (NI). – Mr President, in Northern Ireland it is good to see seasoned supporters of terrorism profess commitment to the rule of law against which they fought for so long. But only a fool would accept verbal pledges from those who hitherto did not baulk at murder without putting those pledges to the rigorous test of time and proven delivery.

Sinn Féin has made a highly conditional commitment to support the police, but only when they are rewarded with government office. Such blackmail is unacceptable. Genuine commitment to law and order is unconditional. Furthermore, you cannot be untainted democrats and an aspirant party for government and still be inextricably linked to an illegal organisation boasting a continuing Army Council. So Sinn Féin is only at the start of a long road of transition from terrorist adjunct to a party fit for the purposes of office. May its journey be real, rather than virtual.


  Мартин Димитров (PPE-DE). – (BG) Уважаеми господин Председател, дами и господа, искам да обърна внимание на този Парламент и на всички Европейски институции за очертаващата се енергийна криза на Балканите.

В Албания има много сериозен режим на тока, Македония едва покрива своите енергийни нужди. България вече не е износител на ток за Балканите. След затварянето на 3-ти и 4-ти блок на АЕЦ „Козлодуй” България едва покрива вътрешното си потребление.

Необходим е нов подход на европейските институции към Балканите, нова стратегия. 3-ти и 4-ти блок, които бяха затворени в началото на тази година и спрени от действие, са напълно безопасни и това се показа от множество международни изследвания. Необходим е гъвкав подход. В противен случай, тези проблеми само ще се задълбочат и само меката зима до сега скрива техния истински мащаб.

Този Парламент само с няколко гласа не подкрепи гъвкавия подход по отношение на АЕЦ „Козлодуй”, но тези възможности още не са изчерпани и ние всички заедно трябва да ги използваме, ако не искаме проблемите на Балканите да стават все по-сериозни. Прогнозите показват, че през 2007 г. и 2008 г. ще има още по-голям недостиг на ток. Така че е важно Европейската комисия и другите европейски институции да вземат отношение.


  Elizabeth Lynne (ALDE). – Mr President, I would like to raise the issue of mine clearance. I have very severe concerns about the continuing funding for this all-important issue from the European Union. Although there are some good aspects of mainstreaming of the anti-personnel landmine budget line, if the national authorising officer does not include funding for humanitarian disarmament – which includes clearance of cluster munitions and landmines – in their country’s strategy paper, then after December this year funds for these life-saving operations funded by the EU could cease. This would have a severe impact on a variety of development programmes in particular countries.

I call on the President to put pressure on the Commission to look into the detail of the possible consequences, which will include the loss of life through uncleared landmines and cluster munitions.


  Bairbre de Brún (GUE/NGL). – (GA) Mr President, the report from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland was published last week, a report which confirmed the collusion between the police force there and a unionist paramilitary murder squad. This report is only the beginning. It is clear, when one looks at the seniority of those involved within the police force and to whom reference was made in this report, that collusion was a political and administrative practice which was present at all levels of that police force -the RUC- and in the British Government. The big question now is what will be done with this report and what action will be taken. Despite that, Sinn Féin took a historic decision to support the new Police Service. There is now a remarkable opportunity to further advance the Peace Process in Ireland. I would ask Ian Paisley's DUP party, and especially their MEP Jim Allister, to work with Sinn Féin and to work with me to ensure this advance in the Peace Process in Ireland.


  Jana Bobošíková (NI).(CS) Mr President, my reaction to the resignation of the chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs is as follows. Mr Leinen this week levelled accusations against President Klaus of the Czech Republic in connection with his views on the European Constitution, saying that the President’s policy runs counter to the interests of his own country and its citizens. I should like to assure Mr Leinen that he is mistaken. The rejection of the Constitution in its current form is overwhelmingly in the interests of the Czech Republic, and President Klaus is doing nothing more than fulfilling his Presidential promise on the Constitution. In addition to his one-sided praise of the merits of the document, Mr Leinen ought to point out that the European Constitution will, for example, offer unauthorised and unlimited benefits for Germany, the country for which he himself is an elected representative. If Mr Leinen does not mention all aspects of the European Constitution and if he conceals its potential consequences for some countries, he will be the one whose actions are at variance with the interests of EU citizens and he, rather than the Czech President, will be the one who is holding back the process of European integration.


  József Szájer (PPE-DE).(HU) In Hungary, one of the old democracies of Europe and a Member State of the European Union for scarcely a couple of years, the police, with barely concealed government help, has for several months been severely limiting the fundamental right of citizens to assembly. We Hungarians are proud of the Hungarian Parliament building and we named the great square in front of it after the greatest hero of the Hungarian War of Independence, Lajos Kossuth. This square has played a decisive role in the history of Hungary for the past 100 years. This is the square that the chief of police of Budapest closed three months ago illegally and in violation of the right to assembly, in order to stop citizens from demonstrating. The Hungarian Constitution, as well as every international treaty dealing with civil liberties, forbids the unjustified restriction of such a basic right as the right to assembly. Yet in the heart of Europe, on the main square of Budapest, on Kossuth Square, it has been forbidden to voice political opinions for three months. This is unacceptable. This is not a Hungarian issue, but rather a grave assault against European democratic values shared by all. As a final point Mr President, let me express my happiness about the fact that it was you, Mr Bielan, who could yield the floor to me.


  Yannick Vaugrenard (PSE). – (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the rise of the extreme right in Europe is an issue of major concern and the creation of a such a group in this Parliament casts a dark shadow over our history, just over sixty years after the liberation of the concentration camps. Europe was created on the basis of recognising the errors of the past, with a view to banishing them forever. But today we have certain Members of this Parliament who are forgetting about that, and in some cases even worse, denying it, and hence putting us at risk of having to live through those situations again.

That is unacceptable and the political health cordon intended to prevent democracy from becoming infected, however essential it may be, is not enough. The fundamental cause of this trouble is political and philosophical, but also economic and social. Lack of well-being leads to malaise, which can in turn lead to fear and suspicion of others and their differences.

Let us therefore commit ourselves to showing more solidarity, to caring more for those excluded and forgotten in our current society, so that those who profit from the misfortune and misery of others are not allowed to tarnish our hard-won European democracy.


  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Another 500 workers have just been made redundant at the Ovar factory of the multinational Yasaki Saltano, with only a few dozen transferred to other factories in the same group. These redundancies have mainly affected young women, in a region in which there is no alternative employment, and have followed promises made by the multinational to launch new manufacturing projects, which have failed to materialise.

Yet the Commission has just confirmed that the multinational Yasaki Saltano has received over EUR 2 million in Community funds for their factories in Portugal. It is vital, therefore, to put an end to the granting of aid to multinationals that proceed to lay off workers and relocate manufacturing. This is a scandal that must not be allowed to go on.


  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE-DE). – Mr President, the European Parliament is discussing the conclusion of agreements between the European Community and the Russian Federation on the recognition and facilitation of issuing short-stay visas.

Concerning the recognition agreements, our reservations relate to the absence of the regulatory framework for implementing the agreement as well as the fact that the agreement does not explicitly exclude asylum seekers from its scope. Concerning the visa facilitation agreement, reservations are even more serious and should be taken into account.

Mr President, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of these concerns. Even though the EC Treaty provides merely for Parliament to be consulted in cases of this kind, it should continue to call on the Council and Commission to fulfil their information obligations so that European decisions can be taken on a democratic footing.


  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE).(LT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen has surprised the whole European Union by presenting his own vision of the management reform being implemented in the EU. In his opinion, small member countries should not delegate their Commission members, as they would only be responsible for insignificant fields of Community activity. They could send their representatives to work at the bureaus of important Commission Member States, and that would be the extent of the small countries’ role in the European Commission. The large countries would manage the important areas and would make proper decisions. Which fields are insignificant? Perhaps Commission members from large countries could participate in them and make them significant? Why does Germany not set an example and take the lead, for example, in the field of multilingualism? Is it only possible for Commission members from large countries to be competent?

One of the most important fundamental EU principles is the principle of non-discrimination. What is being proposed here is size-based discrimination against EU members. Are such Commission members capable of suggesting something positive for the EU reform? Their lack of consensus appears to demonstrate the unsuitability of many of them to work in an international EU collective.


  Milan Gaľa (PPE-DE). – (SK) The European Commission has decreased CO2 emissions quotas for Slovakia for the period of 2008–2012 by 10.3 million tonnes a year. This means that the quantities allocated to 183 sources, including the reserve for new sources, may not exceed 30.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. For Slovakia this is unacceptable.

Thanks to the preceding Dzurinda government, the Slovak economy has posted record GDP growth. In March 2006 the industrial production index was 15.3% instead of the projected 7.4%. The low emissions quotas would impose discriminatory constraints on growth. During this period Slovakia will be facing significant changes in the structure of electricity generation, as a result of the decommissioning of the Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear power plant units provided for under the Accession Treaty. It is appalling that the Commission has failed to accept Slovakia’s proposal for an increase in the CO2 emissions quota by at least 4.5 million tonnes. Significantly, Slovakia is emitting less carbon dioxide than it is allocated under the Kyoto Protocol.


  Marco Cappato (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Albania is going to hold local elections on 18 February 2007, after they had been postponed because of the risk of electoral fraud in the identification of voters. As a matter of fact, the signs coming out of Albania from our colleagues in the non-violent Radical Party and the MJAFT Movement suggest that these risks still exist and that it is practically certain that the standards set by the Council of Europe and the OSCE will not be met.

I hope that this House will be able to give its opinion on this subject and that the Bureau of Parliament can in any case formally voice its concern. As the European Union, we must certainly do more to ensure not only that there are official observers of the voting operations but also that there is proper, strict monitoring of the whole preparatory stage leading up to the elections and then of the election process itself. We must stop confining ourselves to being merely official observers: the future of our Europe is also at stake.


  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, I should like to remind the House that the European Union's strategy for achieving the objectives set in Lisbon by 2010 requires an increase in competitiveness, economic improvements and, of course, a resolution to the problem of unemployment, especially among young people.

This will not be achieved unless changes are made to education systems also, unless the system is modernised, especially the higher education system. Numerous states are attempting to change it and this is really national policy. These changes are either a cause of major concern to young people or, on the contrary, leave them indifferent. Both cases are worrying for Europe.

Of course, there is the problem of the constitution and information relating to it. Perhaps, however, before the Constitutional Treaty, the inhabitants of Europe – especially young people – should be informed more effectively about the changes before them and for that both the European Commission and we here in Parliament have a responsibility.


  Marios Matsakis (ALDE). – Mr President, Turkish Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus are now gradually attempting to free themselves from the stranglehold of the Turkish army of occupation. Approximately 85 000 Turkish Cypriots have, since the Turkish invasion of 1974, been living under the subordination of Turkey, decidedly imposed by the presence of 40 000 Turkish troops.

After Cyprus’ succession to the EU in 2004, Turkish Cypriots are beginning to feel secure enough to start openly expressing their desire for freedom from Turkish domination. In this respect, hundreds of Turkish Cypriot university students recently held a demonstration in occupied Nicosia against the Turkish army of occupation. A few days later, a prominent Turkish Cypriot politician, Mustafa Akinci, dared to make a fierce attack on the occupation of Cyprus by Turkish troops.

The struggle of Turkish Cypriots against the Turkish army of occupation of the northern part of Cyprus has begun. It is gaining momentum and it deserves our full support if we are ever to see a united, independent Cyprus in which the principles of justice and democracy are fully upheld.


  Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) Thirty years have passed this month since the world’s press published the text of Charter 77, a petition closely associated with protests against the communist dictatorship in the former Czechoslovakia. It was an expression of resistance against the arrogance of power and the brutality of the state security apparatus, which had no respect for freedom of religion, imprisoning all those who criticised them, and preventing young people from studying because of their own opinions or even those of their parents.

Charter 77 was associated with prominent personalities, such as Václav Havel, and even thirty years on it has lost none of its significance or relevance. It inspired the Belarusian opposition to come up with their Charter 97 initiative, signed by tens of thousands of Belarusians protesting against the Lukashenko regime. North Korean, Cuban and Burmese dissidents are also trying to make use of these tactics. Therefore let me say a few words at the European Parliament on behalf of those who have experienced a totalitarian communist regime. Signatories of Charter 77, we thank you for your courage which led to victory over fear, so that all of us can live and work in the European Union as free people today.


  Zbigniew Zaleski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, every presidency tries to leave its own particular mark. Europe is organising itself formally and looking to the future. That is right and proper, but it would be a mistake to try and build a future from scratch, creating a new kind of person. The USSR tried to do so and failed dismally. Europe must take account of its history, including both its finest hours and its most terrible times. It is important to distil from historical truth values that have proved their worth and which were crucial to overcoming past crises. Prominent amongst them are Christian values in the broadest sense of the word. These constitute a key reference point for mankind. I trust the current Presidency will enable Christian values to play a leading role in Parliament’s work, to ensure a full and healthy democracy. A democracy that is not founded on profound values is bound to be weak and unfit for its purpose.


  Avril Doyle (PPE-DE). – Mr President, yesterday’s Commission Green Paper on second-hand smoke asserts that comprehensive smoking bans are the best way to tackle this serious danger to health. I agree.

There are nearly five million tobacco-related deaths worldwide, but governments still fail to implement tobacco control policies that are known and proven to work. Tobacco companies have seriously thwarted efforts to protect health. At this very moment, the British American Tobacco website downplays the serious risks of second-hand smoke, saying that if there is any risk it is too small to measure. Second-hand smoke causes 79 000 deaths a year in the EU; statistics show that passive smoking causes one death every working day in the hospitality sector: is that too small to measure? I think not!

Furthermore, a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that tobacco companies had increased the nicotine hit in their cigarettes by 11% between 1995 and 2005. This study found that cigarettes had been redesigned to increase the number of puffs per unit, thereby increasing the nicotine intake of the smoker. This disturbing evidence comes as no surprise. Tobacco companies have lied consistently down the years about the danger of their products.

Anything less than an outright ban would mean failing to protect those most vulnerable and exposed to serious risks, and this Parliament has a duty to promote and protect the health of our citizens.


  Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE-DE).(SL) On Wednesday, 17 January, a press conference took place in the European Parliament at which the Prime Ministers of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia presented a platform for the EU 3 Presidency for the next 18 months. Given the major, and not least the symbolic, importance of the event, the conference was attended not only by the three Prime Ministers but also by the Presidents of the European Parliament and of the European Commission.

Considering the importance of this event, I was appalled to hear that the press conference took place in an entirely inadequate room which was basically too small to accommodate all those who wanted to listen to the Prime Ministers. The working conditions for the press were unacceptably poor.

Let us ask ourselves two questions. First: Do we want quality and transparency in the reporting of the work we do? And second: Do we want our work to achieve greater recognition on the part of the citizens of the EU? If we aspire to both these things, I call on those responsible to ensure that future press conferences be organised in more adequate and, above all, larger premises so that we may guarantee access to everyone. Finally, we must recognise that the press have a decisive impact on the public image of the European Union.


  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, we are now half way through this parliamentary term. It is time to review the past and decide on targets and programmes for the future. The 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome is a good opportunity to look back over past decades, not just years. Although the European Community’s original aims related to economic problems, the creation of a common market and an economic community, life experience and the wisdom of the European leaders broadened the scope of our great European project to encompass such noble aims as human rights, democracy, freedom, solidarity and mutual aid.

The challenges we currently face lie in the area of security in the broadest sense of the term. Chief amongst them are energy security and combating harmful climate change. These problems can apparently be solved by the introduction of new technologies and innovation. We must not, however, disregard social security, food security and combating terrorism. It is essential for the Union’s institutions and the Union itself to function efficiently if all these tasks are to be accomplished.


  President. The debate is closed.

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