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Monday, 9 July 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

14. One-minute speeches on matters of political importance

  President. In accordance with Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure, the next item is one-minute speeches on matters of political importance.


  Ovidiu Victor Ganţ (PPE-DE). – Preşedinţia germană a Uniunii Europene a început sub auspicii excelente pentru România, ţara noastră devenind membru la 1 ianuarie 2007. Acest moment istoric a fost validat în unanimitate în Parlamentul României odată cu Tratatul constituţional european.

Din păcate, acesta nu a fost adoptat, noi negocieri fiind iniţiate. În aceste condiţii politice apreciez în mod deosebit eforturile Germaniei şi ale doamnei cancelar Merkel în realizarea unui consens. Germania şi Franţa au pus împreună bazele Uniunii Europene, trecând peste resentimente seculare. De aici hotărârea şi perseverenţa cu care preşedinţia germană a căutat consensul.


  President. Thank you. Pacta sunt servanda does not need to be translated because everyone knows what it means.


  Árpád Duka-Zólyomi (PPE-DE). – (SK) Before EU accession, Slovakia had been able to meet the Copenhagen criteria fairly well, including the criteria on ethnic minority rights.

Since the Fico government took office, however, the situation has become much less certain. There are increasing signs that this government is gradually challenging and curtailing hard-won minority rights. One of the first promises of the government was to preserve the status quo with regard to minority rights. An example of this would be the recent verbal attack by the Ministry of Culture, which accused a Hungarian-language daily published in Slovakia of breaking the law by using Hungarian place names.

These accusations and the arguments used to substantiate them do not hold water, since the right to designate places in the mother tongue is guaranteed under international agreements and required by the grammar of each language, including Hungarian. The main problem is that the current language legislation contravenes international agreements that have been ratified by the Slovak Republic. There is also a reluctance to ensure compliance with Slovakia’s obligations under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. It is disconcerting that the Fico government has again chosen to whip up Slovak-Hungarian tensions over an issue which has been relatively calm in recent years.


  President. May I remind the House that these one-minute speeches last one minute?


  Lasse Lehtinen (PSE). – (FI) Mr President, the Commission has promised to issue a White Paper on sport on 10 July. Sports and physical fitness organisations around Europe would like to determine sport’s special status so precisely that the Union’s rules on competition and the internal market do not threaten its social importance.

The popular movement in sport should not have to suffer just because top sportsmen in many sports are professional and managed like a business. There is a long tradition of voluntary work, especially in the Nordic countries. The European model, where charitable organisations and the Church often keep sports activities going, works just as well and emphasises the same values.

The Commission and the European Parliament need to enact laws which guarantee that sport can decide for itself in a lot of matters.



  Alexandru-Ioan Morţun (ALDE). – România a luat notă de adoptarea de către Adunarea Parlamentară a Consiliului Europei a raportului Dick Marty referitor la presupuse centre de detenţie. Regretăm că raportorul, în pofida invitaţiilor repetate de a se documenta la faţa locului, a preferat discuţiilor directe cu autorităţile române realizarea raportului în baza unor surse nenominalizate, a căror veridicitate nu a fost până acum probată.

Deoarece tema va fi reluată în curând în Comisia LIBE a Parlamentului European, România, într-un spirit de totală deschidere şi cooperare, doreşte să-i fie aduse la cunoştinţă probele care au stat la baza formulării unor acuzaţii atât de grave.

Solicităm acest lucru şi pentru a vedea dacă nu au existat şi alte informaţii rămase eventual neinvestigate la nivel naţional.

În plus, revenim asupra necesităţii ca domnul Dick Marty să dea curs invitaţiei de a se deplasa în România pentru avea discuţii directe cu autorităţile, pentru a fi confruntat nemijlocit cu rezultatele anchetei naţionale efectuate.


  Andrzej Tomasz Zapałowski (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, the leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament has attacked Poland and its Government on several occasions during recent months. Despite his statements on combating xenophobia in Europe, he has behaved arrogantly and hurled allegations against my country. These attacks were not part of a sensible discussion. They simply demonstrated hatred and prejudice against Poland and its leaders.

I call upon you, Mr President, to act to prevent Mr Schulz from taking advantage of the European Union's institutions to fuel enmity between Member States. Mr Schulz's intolerance of nations seeking to promote their interests violates the code of ethics an MEP should adhere to.


  President. You have addressed me as President. I do not believe there is any basis for what you say. It was a political dispute and there were reasons for it, as the group chairman has explained. I do not therefore see any reason why I should take the action you are asking me to.


  Milan Horáček (Verts/ALE). – (DE) Mr President, in its new progress report, the Commission has given Romania and Bulgaria the ‘unsatisfactory’ mark for the fight against corruption. At the same time, it has decided not to apply the safeguard clauses. What is more, the Commissioners have greatly watered down the originally crushing reports on deficits in justice and criminal prosecution and deleted a number of passages criticising the clear shortcomings compared with EU standards.

At the same time, the results in the fight against crime are very poor. Contract killings as a whole are a great cause for concern, especially the murders of local politicians that have taken place since January. No one has been charged or sentenced for them to date.

This kid glove treatment is damaging not only to Parliament, which made the safeguard clauses a condition of both countries’ accession, but also to the integrity of the European Union as a whole, and is unacceptable.


  Willy Meyer Pleite (GUE/NGL). – (ES) Mr President, I want my words to serve as a wake-up call to the European Parliament and the European institutions with regard to accidents in the workplace in the Union.

Spain is currently at the top of the league in terms of work accidents, with 20% of all of the accidents occurring in the European Union. The situation is very serious: in my country alone there are 7 600 accidents per 100 000 employees. This figure demonstrates the need for a change of direction in our economic growth, an out-of-control growth that does not take account of the quality of employment.

In Spain, on average, three workers die in their workplaces every week. Last week, two people died dismantling the stage at a Rolling Stones concert in the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid. Another four workers died in Carboneras, in Almería. These figures demonstrate the need for a radical change with a view to achieving quality in employment and putting an end to accidents in the workplace and casual work.


  Thomas Wise (IND/DEM). – Mr President, the Belgian Government recently passed a law requiring supermarkets to charge customers for plastic bags. I commend it on this action. It is a step on the way to a better environment. A similar law was passed in Ireland some years ago and it was also very successful, reducing carrier bag usage by up to 90%. This shows how Member States, when left to handle their own affairs and without EU interference, can solve their problems quite well by themselves. But I note that the supermarket in Parliament’s basement in Brussels is not charging for carrier bags. I have written to the manager of the supermarket asking why this law should not be applied in his shop. But perhaps this is another example of one law for ordinary folk and another law that is ignored for a privileged few.


  President. If I may say so, Mr Wise, you have just made a contribution to the Europeanisation of the solution to this problem. Thank you!


  Десислав Чуколов (ITS). – Уважаеми г-н председател, уважаеми колеги, вземам думата сега, за да фокусирам вниманието ви върху огромния скандал, случващ се в България през последните няколко седмици.

Уволнен служител на Националната служба за охрана изнася факти, че български политици са следени от тази служба, като тази служба се води на пряко подчинение на президента на Република България Георги Първанов.

Преди време, г-н Pöttering, Вие приехте Първанов, въпреки изричното предупреждение на колегата ми Димитър Стоянов, че се срещате с агент на бившата Държавна сигурност. Сега се оказва, че този агент на Държавна сигурност и неговият приятел, вътрешният министър на Република България, Румен Петков, следят и подслушват български политици.

Аз като представител на най-силно изразената опозиционна партия у нас, „Атака“, изказвам възмущението си по този повод - следенето и подслушването на председателя на „Атака“ - г-н Волен Сидеров. Това не са голи твърдения. Това са факти, изнесени от подполковник Николай Марков - бивш служител на НСО. Ние от „Атака“ настояваме за изясняване на всеки детайл от този грозен случай и затова изискахме изслушването на всички страни в българския парламент. Управляващите у нас отново отказаха това, което идва да потвърди отново тяхната замесеност в този случай.

Накрая г-н президент, искам да Ви призова като ръководител на тази уважавана институция, каквато е Европейският парламент, да използвате влиянието и авторитета си пред властите в България, за да се сложи край на тези незаконни и недемократични действия.


  President. Parliament’s services will look into what you say and I am sure they will then advise me.


  Sergej Kozlík (NI). – (SK) A year ago Lithuania’s bid to join the Euro zone was rejected. This happened despite the fact that Lithuania had complied with the Maastricht criteria in advance and to a far greater extent than most Euro zone members. The only criticism was that the inflation benchmark had been exceeded by one tenth of a percent. This sufficed to deny Lithuania access to the Euro zone, and provoked a major crisis in Lithuanian domestic politics.

Next year Slovakia’s bid to join the Euro zone will be assessed. At present Slovakia is on course to meet the convergence criteria, but voices are already being heard from the European Central Bank and Commission, talking about the need to ensure that compliance remains sustainable. It would be perfectly OK if this ‘flexible rule’ were applied equally to the Member States of the Euro zone. Such an approach quite justifiably leads us to question whether the desire to extend the Euro zone to the countries of Eastern Europe is genuine or fake.


  Georgios Papastamkos (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, the German Presidency was quite right to take the initiative in registering the negotiating mandate for the reform treaty on climate change.

I believe that the environment should have a horizontal dimension, that we should safeguard the horizontal logic of environmental policy in the reform treaty, because environmental policy is simply an aggregate of individual policies; it is not just one policy, it is an aggregate of several policies.

I also believe that we need to make the environmental diplomacy of the European Union more cohesive to the outside world and to link environmental diplomacy with the common foreign and security policy, with international trade and with European development policy, if we want to have results on a global mega-scale, because the environment has no borders, it is a public commodity and, as such, we must protect it overall through international associations.


  Maria Matsouka (PSE).(EL) Mr President, I believe it is my duty to inform you about the drama surrounding the redundancies at the company Dipasmata Drapetsonas.

The first 380 workers were made redundant in 1999. In 2003, the Committee on Petitions decided unanimously to ask for them to be reinstated. In 2006, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Greece decided, again unanimously, that the redundancies were invalid and abusive.

Despite the battle and their vindication by the court, the remaining 200 workers made redundant continue to experience the feeling of social injustice and financial isolation. The Greek Government is refusing to apply even this ruling by the highest court in the country.

In the face of this unprecedented political stonewalling, two of the members of the fighting committee, Francheskos Karakatsanis and Apostolos Panayiotidis, started a hunger strike in the middle of a heat-wave, which lasted 12 days and left them in hospital.

These people are claiming the obvious right to a dignified life for themselves and their families. I call on you to take initiatives for the credibility of the most favoured nation and social Europe.


  Diana Wallis (ALDE). – Mr President, I find it very odd, as an MEP from a very developed and wealthy country, to be standing here to draw attention to a natural disaster of huge proportions in the region I represent.

Last week, just a few miles from my own home, I was taken to see homes where there are piles of furniture in each garden; homes that have been abandoned completely as their owners dare not come back yet; homes inside which floodwater had risen up to a metre or more – risen through the floor with extensive rainfall: two months’ rain falling in just 12 hours. Thousands of homes were destroyed, schools closed indefinitely, businesses and farms wiped out – often in communities that were previously in receipt of European structural funding.

Yesterday, there were buses bringing humanitarian aid – buses that normally service communities in Africa. The whole thing is incongruous, unreal – but very real and very devastating to the individuals whose homes and community infrastructure have been destroyed.

We hope our Government will make an application to the EU Solidarity Fund. I hope this House will support it. It would be appreciated if the House could show its support to these communities in the region of Yorkshire.


  President. Thank you, Mrs Wallis. As it is your constituency, we must show our solidarity.


  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, I am given courage to speak on the subject I had decided on previously by your comment that the phrase pacta sunt servanda does not need to be translated, because everyone understands it.

How many young people in Europe learn Latin and Ancient Greek, the languages which have been used to express not only European thinking from the beginning, but also European spirituality have been expressed?

Within the framework, therefore, of multilingualism, which the European Union supports, we should remember these languages, Ancient Greek and Latin, which constituted the bases for the expression of the European spirit and we must support them with measures and programmes, so that all the young people of Europe have the possibility of learning where the words they use in their own, modern European language derive from.

When I listen to my honourable friends here, even though I do not speak their languages, I understand the words that derive from Ancient Greek and Latin. Why should young Europeans not also have this opportunity?


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE). – Ca urmare a schimbărilor climatice, agricultorii europeni se confruntă tot mai des cu fenomene de secetă şi inundaţii.

Agricultorii din România se confruntă în acest an cu o secetă excesivă, ce a afectat toate culturile însămânţate în toamna anului 2006 şi primăvara anului 2007. În acest an, peste milion de agricultori din sudul, vestul şi estul României nu vor putea recolta nici măcar un kilogram de produs agricol de pe hectarul de teren arabil cultivat, ceea ce va aduce la o creştere explozivă a preţurilor pe piaţa românească la toate produsele agroalimentare şi la falimentul agricultorilor.

Uniunea Europeană trebuie să sprijine mai mult prin Fondul European de Solidaritate statele membre aflate în astfel de situaţii.


  Marco Cappato (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have just included the vote on Parliament’s opinion on the Intergovernmental Conference in Wednesday’s order of business.

In view of this evening’s meeting of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, I would just like to draw Members’ attention to the fact that, in the past, the European Parliament’s obligation to give an opinion – even though the opinion itself was not binding – was in fact used by such people as Altiero Spinelli in order to be able to influence decisions on treaty reform.

The fact, however, that the timeframes and procedures have been set, if I may say so, at an almost military pace, so that the committee has its debate and votes straight away this evening and then Parliament makes its judgment on Wednesday, means that we are giving up that power to influence that we in this House should have been able to exercise and, indeed, should still be able to exercise, for example in relation to those who even want to remove our European symbols from the treaties.

I hope that one of the Members here present will put forward this possibility in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs this evening.


  President. Mr Cappato, I can tell you that we will only adopt the statement if, when the President of the European Council addresses Parliament on Wednesday, he also gives us assurances that Parliament will be involved at all levels of the proceedings. That is our condition. You will speak about it in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs this evening.


  Ryszard Czarnecki (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, at the last sitting of the European Parliament, Commissioner Almunia surprised many Members when he stated on behalf of the European Commission that the consequences of not joining the eurozone would be different for the new Member States, four of which he named, than for the old ones, that is to say, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark. This very honest but alarming statement testifies to a particular type of discrimination against the new Member States.

By recognising that the new Member States are to be treated differently from the old ones, the Commissioner is admitting that Europe has actually been partitioned into a first and second class Europe, albeit unofficially. This unacceptable situation has arisen three years after the accession of the 10 new Member States to the Union and six months after the accession of the latest two new Members. It would be helpful if the European Commission's representatives eventually grasped the fact that the Union is a single unit and that there is no such entity as an old and therefore better Union as opposed to a new and worse one.


  Monica Maria Iacob-Ridzi (PPE-DE). – Procedura bugetară pentru anul 2008 deschide perspectiva unei posibile diminuări a fondurilor structurale şi de coeziune pe baza unei rate de absorbţie scăzute în 2007.

În primul an de implementare a unei noi programări financiare, toate statele Uniunii au o rată de absorbţie redusă pentru că trebuie să aştepte aprobarea de către Comisie a programelor operaţionale. Deşi România a fost printre primele ţări care au depus aceste documente, până în prezent ele nu au fost aprobate, în ciuda termenului de 4 luni adoptat de legislaţia europeană.

Întârzierea aprobării programelor operaţionale sectoriale reduce cu aproape un an perioada în care se pot depune proiecte pentru finanţare. Astfel, numeroase proiecte planificate pentru 2007 vor fi întârziate, ceea ce va antrena costuri economice considerabile.

În plus, se creează o discontinuitate în accesarea finanţărilor europene. Fondurile de pre-aderare au fost foarte bine absorbite -Phare în proporţie de 97%- şi sunt convinsă că la fel se va întâmpla şi cu cele structurale şi de coeziune.

Limitarea fondurilor structurale ar afecta într-o proporţie mai mare ultimele state care au aderat la Uniunea Europeană, România şi Bulgaria, care au deja alocate sume mai mici. Cele două ţări beneficiază împreună de un fond egal cu cel al Ungariei. Pentru toate aceste motive consider că reducerea sumelor destinate politicii de coeziune nu trebuie să se facă pe baza absorbţiei din anul curent.

Parlamentul European, ca instituţie care are ultimul cuvânt în privinţa fondurilor structurale, nu trebuie să permită acest lucru şi trebuie să solicite Comisiei Europene să urgenteze aprobarea programelor operaţionale.


  Magda Kósáné Kovács (PSE) . – (HU) Since the change of regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, the rights to free opinion and free assembly need protection not primarily from the state but from the ever more powerful forces of extremist, neo-fascist ideologies. Generally, these constitute extra-parliamentary, but extremely violent political groupings. In some states, exclusion and intolerance are not alien even to government policies.

Various national, ethnic and sexual minorities are being intimidated. The exercise of their rights is being restricted and hampered, their human dignity humiliated. In the past few weeks in several Member States, gays celebrated their equality of rights. In some places the festivities of millions went off without disturbance. Elsewhere, extreme right-wing forces provoked conflicts in the streets.

In the spirit of French president Jacques Chirac’s farewell speech, I ask all European conservative forces, at both European and national levels, to lend a helping hand to all endangered people and to their supporters. Let us defend together the dignity of European citizens, and let us stand up against homophobia and against all exclusionary behaviour. If today we do not protect the right to difference, it may be that tomorrow we will not be able to protect our own.


  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL).(PT) I would like to applaud the demonstration by Portuguese workers organised by their union confederation, the CGTP-IN, which was held on 5 July in Guimarães. I fully support their courageous and generous struggle against the new measures to facilitate unfair dismissals, deregulation and arbitrariness in fixing working conditions, the weakening of collective bargaining and the attack on the organisation of workers, particularly trade unions.

These unacceptable proposals form part of the unprecedented offensive against labour known as ‘flexicurity’, which has been enshrined in Community Green Papers or communications and national White Papers, the aim of which is to generalise job insecurity, exacerbate exploitation and reduce workers’ rights in order to increase the profits of the large economic and financial groups. Following on from the great general strike of 30 May, this ongoing, selfless struggle will lead thousands of public administration workers to demonstrate next Thursday and many thousands of other workers to take part in the demonstration planned for 18 October in Lisbon.


  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, the practice whereby different Member States assume leadership of the European Union every six months results in a particular style of activity and an effort to achieve the objectives set at all costs in a very short space of time. This system generates many tensions because certain decision-making processes are accelerated unduly.

The Constitutional Treaty is a case in point. The so-called period of reflection was too long. The matter remained in suspense throughout and no serious thought was given to it, contrary to what had been anticipated.

It was hard to make up for lost opportunities during the six-month German Presidency, and there was insufficient time for an in-depth discussion of the best possible solutions. Allocating too little time to the Intergovernmental Conference, especially as the holiday season intervenes, may well result in a similar situation. We run the risk that important decisions will once again be taken hurriedly and without proper preparation.


  Marc Tarabella (PSE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, as an exception I shall speak in Italian to criticise the encryption and blacking-out of certain programmes broadcast by the RAI to other countries: they include football matches and Formula 1 Grand Prix races, and also films, TV serials and cartoons.

I am thinking of all those who had to leave their country many years ago and their children, who want to maintain a link with Italian culture. Seeing that other European TV channels broadcast openly makes it all even more difficult to understand. It is an injustice and, as a spokesman in this Chamber for the Italian community abroad, I fully endorse the petition at

, which I wish every success.


  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE). – Doresc să salut decizia Conferinţei ministeriale a Tratatului Comunităţii Energetice din sud-estul Europei din Muntenegru, din 29 iunie, de a deschide negocierile privind aderarea Moldovei şi Ucrainei la Comunitatea Energetică din sud-estul Europei.

Aderarea Moldovei la acest tratat înseamnă adoptarea legislaţiei comunitare în domeniul energiei şi al mediului; înseamnă integrarea în piaţa europeană de energie electrică şi gaze naturale; înseamnă o perspectivă europeană pentru această ţară; înseamnă în fapt un mare pas înainte către Uniunea Europeană.

Apreciez (că) termenul de 31 decembrie 2007 asumat pentru finalizarea negocierilor privind aderarea Moldovei ca fiind unul realist. Având în vedere că aceste negocieri se vor purta cu Comisia Europeană, solicit Comisiei Europene să nu facă nici un fel de asociere între aderarea-tratat a Moldovei şi cea a Ucrainei.

Negocierile trebuie purtate separat, iar aderarea trebuie să se facă în funcţie de meritele proprii ale fiecărei ţări. Datorită modului în care Ucraina abordează problematica mediului înconjurător, inclusiv în problema în canalului Bâstroe şi a situaţiei cu standardele de securitate nucleară, este posibil ca aderare Ucrainei să întârzie. Ar fi incorect ca într-o astfel de situaţie aderarea Moldovei să fie întârziată datorită problemelor Ucrainei.


  Péter Olajos (PPE-DE). (HU) While the Live Earth concert was under way on all seven continents last weekend, in order to put a stop to climate change and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, meanwhile in Slovakia an astonishing announcement was made. Scarcely 20 kilometres from the historic Tokaj wine region, an investment group wishes to build Slovakia’s largest coal-fired power plant.

Once the establishment is operational, it will emit 4 million tonnes of harmful substances annually. Because of the prevailing wind direction, this enormous quantity of pollution will descend almost entirely upon Hungary. And it will do so precisely where we find the world-famous Tokaj foothills, a World Heritage Site. The area is also the location of the Bükk National Park, which is a significant Natura 2000 area. This is where the pollution would be released, in the form of acid rain and soot.

These days, when one of the greatest challenges is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, when we are desperately struggling to preserve biodiversity, not a single EU Member State can be permitted so blatantly to ignore our common values and commitments, be that with its immediate neighbour or with any other Member State. I would ask my fellow Members, with particular consideration for my Slovak colleagues, to raise their voices in opposition to this project. It is not enough to applaud at the concert, we must also take action.


  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). – Mr President, I am concerned about the situation concerning non-national lettori, or lecturers, in Italian universities. They have fought for equality for over 20 years, they have won four European Court of Justice cases, but the Italian universities persist in discriminating against them. More recently, the European Court of Justice inexplicably found in favour of Italy, contrary to the advice of the Advocate-General. The Commission has now closed its case against Italy rather than seeking a revision of the new European Court of Justice ruling. This decision was made despite documentary evidence that discrimination continues.

I urge the President to make contact with the Commission – with Commissioner Špidla in particular – and insist that European citizens’ rights to equal treatment in the workplace, wherever they may work, are respected and defended by the Commission. I will send you the background information on this so that you may raise this matter.


  Richard James Ashworth (PPE-DE). – Mr President, you will be aware that a million European citizens have signed a petition calling for this Parliament to have one seat. This was a major expression of the will of the people, not only because this Parliament could save the taxpayers about EUR 200 million a year, but also because we as responsible parliamentarians could be seen to be taking action to cut our carbon emissions. As Members of this Parliament, I believe we have a duty to listen to and respond to the wishes of the people.

However, this is an issue that can be addressed only by the Intergovernmental Conference. I therefore urge the presidency and the Bureau of this Parliament to take action on this matter and to raise the subject in advance of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference. Surely the time has come for this Parliament to listen to and respond to the concerns and the demands of one million European citizens and to debate this issue properly.


  Brian Simpson (PSE). – Mr President, this weekend Germany played Serbia in Heidelberg for the first time at the great game of rugby league, or rugby à treize. However, the HTV rugby union club in Heidelberg, aided by the German Rugby Union, tried to disrupt the event with disgraceful behaviour. They went around tearing down posters advertising the game; they threatened German players that if they played rugby league for their country they would be banned from playing rugby union. The national trainer of the German rugby union team, prior to the playing of the national anthems, threatened a player and banned him from playing, against his wishes, for his country. HTV played on the designated pitch the day before even though the local authority had forbidden them from doing so, thus ruining the playing surface for the international match the following day. The Germany vs Serbia rugby league match was recognised as an international by the Rugby League International Board European Federation.

The actions of HTV Rugby Union Club and German Rugby Union are something we expect from a banana republic, not a nation in the EU, and show how bigoted the German Rugby Union and the HTV club have become. Their behaviour was disgraceful and shocked the spectators. This blatant discrimination and intimidation cannot be tolerated and will, I would hope, be condemned by this House and by the Commission. I would ask the German authorities to withdraw all support from the HTV rugby union club and the German Rugby Union until their attitudes change.


  Marios Matsakis (ALDE). – Mr President, last week the international community witnessed with much satisfaction and relief the release of the BBC’s Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston. As is well known, he had been abducted by an extremist Islamist group four months earlier and his rescue in practical terms on the ground was made possible mainly through the efforts of Hamas. Admittedly Hamas is not the holiest of organisations, but its recent seizure of control in Gaza has had a number of beneficial effects apart from Alan’s release. It has brought stability, peace and a vast decrease in the corruption previously exhibited in Gaza. Hamas representatives were democratically elected in the last elections and enjoy much popular support amongst the Palestinian people. All these factors must surely make the West think again about Hamas, its role in the Middle East problem, and the possibility perhaps of taking Hamas off the terrorist register.


  Bogusław Rogalski (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, I should like to refer you to a text that reads as follows 'Fathers tend to neglect their daughters' clitoris and vagina. They rarely caress those parts of their bodies, yet that is the only way in which little girls can develop pride in their sexuality. Children touch all parts of their fathers’ bodies and sometimes arouse them. Fathers should do likewise.'

These hair-raising, perverted and shocking statements are taken from an official leaflet entitled 'Love, the body and playing doctors' published by the German Federal Centre for Health Education. The leaflet is aimed at parents of children aged between one and three. It is compulsory reading in nine German Länder. It is used as part of nursery and kindergarten staff training.

Mr President, an institution under the aegis of the Ministry of the Family is actually officially encouraging incest and paedophilia in this brochure. This is unacceptable. I appeal for the relevant European Parliament committee to deal with official government publications of this type. No official leaflets can be permitted to encourage paedophilia and incest in any Member State.


  Ioannis Gklavakis (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, in Greece this year we had a serious lack of rainfall in the winter, which caused significant damage to agricultural and livestock production. Unfortunately, since the first days of summer we have had unusually high temperatures throughout south-eastern Europe, lasting for more than ten days and accompanied by catastrophic fires.

In my country, large areas were destroyed in Pilion and Parnitha, which is an important mountain massif in Attica and has been a national forest since 1961. It had a unique pine forest with 1 100 species of plants, some of which are endemic, only growing in this area, and was home to 23 rare species of endangered animals, including the strongest population of red deer in the country.

Unfortunately, environmental damage over recent years has taken on nightmare proportions.

My call is this: I urge you in all earnestness to start a global information campaign at the initiative of the European Union about the major problems facing the planet which, in addition to the destruction of forests throughout the world, include pollution and overfishing of the seas, soil contamination and pollution of the atmosphere.

All these factors are bringing about an ecological imbalance in nature and a reduction in biodiversity. Before it is too late, we must take initiatives and action designed to save our planet, because soon the situation will be irreversible. We owe it to future generations; we owe it to our children.


  Jörg Leichtfried (PSE). – (DE) Mr President, I would like to direct your esteemed attention today to the Roma and Sinti living in Europe. With 12 million people, this marginalised group is Europe’s largest minority. The situation of the Roma and Sinti is deeply shocking. The daily confrontation with racism and discrimination and a general lack of prospects are preventing this ethnic group from becoming an integral part of our democratic and pluralist society.

I was particularly upset to hear that a would-be Austrian politician, who is a disgrace to our profession, recently said that when these people are found begging they should be washed from the streets with steam jets. I am therefore particularly glad that there is another movement in Austria, the Graz Initiative, that is concerning itself with this group’s problems and has taken it upon itself to help the Roma and Sinti out of their difficult situation and promote their integration. Last week, important members of this initiative attended various meetings in Brussels to seek solutions to these people’s problems together with Members of the European Parliament and the Commission.

I would like to expressly congratulate this initiative on taking this step. It is the right approach to finding solutions to these problems in Europe.


  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE). – Mr President, at a time of spiralling disaster in Zimbabwe, many of us are alarmed at reports that the EU Presidency intends to invite Robert Mugabe to the proposed EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon.

Mugabe, of course, bears personal responsibility for the Zimbabwean tragedy and tops the list of Zimbabweans banned from travel to EU countries under the EU’s targeted sanctions.

Parliament understands the importance of the Summit, but has made its view clear, most recently in its resolution of 26 April when it called on the Council ‘to ensure that no banned persons are invited to or attend the planned EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December’. If the EU is to have any credibility, it must at least stand by its own sanctions policies.

It is disappointing there is no representative of the Council here, Mr President, but can I ask you strongly to reaffirm Parliament’s declared policy to the Council.


  Tunne Kelam (PPE-DE). – Mr President, over the decades, European states have learned to show a minimum of respect for the culture and religion of millions of immigrants. Alarmingly, the opposite is true for most of the home countries of the same people.

It has become common in the Middle East, Asia and Africa for people who profess Christian beliefs to face social, political and economic discrimination. In practically all Muslim countries people who decide to join a Christian church risk their lives. The traditional Christian population in all those countries shows a dramatic decrease. Even in an officially secular country like Turkey, Christians face intimidation, harassment and even murder. One can but agree with the proposal by a well-known commentator that Turkey will only be ready to join the EU when it is just as easy to build a Christian church in Turkey as it is to erect a Turkish mosque in Germany today.

I call on the Commission and the Council to pay urgent attention to this aspect in dealing with governments that do not allow even a minimum of respect and protection for their indigenous Christian minorities.




  President. The debate is closed.

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