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Monday, 24 October 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

3. Statements by the President
Video of the speeches

  President. – I would like to make a few initial remarks. We have before us a week of decisions that will be crucial for Europe. Yesterday, I attended the European Council meeting. Wednesday will see the end of the summit of the Euro Group states and the European Council. The members of the Euro Group will have to make decisions that assuage both the markets and the public. On Thursday morning in Strasbourg, Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso will present the European Council conclusions. There will be a very important debate on Thursday at 10.00.

Also on the agenda at this part-session will be tomorrow’s debate on the European Semester and Wednesday’s vote on the budget. We want the budget for 2012 to be a budget of investment, economic growth and job creation. I would like to express my appreciation at this point to fellow Members who attended the conference on the new multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020. Please remember that this was a European Parliament initiative; it was our idea. The conference was a success and it has been suggested that it should be continued in six months and a year. I would like to stress once again that thirty-something representatives of the European Parliament were present for the entire talks, which meant that we made our presence felt and were a very important voice with regard to the main subject matter of the discussion.

The next point: yesterday, the people of Tunisia voted in their country’s first free and democratic elections. This was an historic moment for Tunisia and the entire Arab world. There was a turnout of over 90% and, according to reports and information we have received, voting was conducted peacefully and in a responsible manner. We extend our best wishes to the new parliament and future government. The election was monitored on site by European Parliament observers, and we will receive their report in the next few days. I will be visiting Tunisia personally on Sunday, and this will already be the second time I have been in the country since the Arab Spring began. All of us at the European Parliament consider North Africa today to be a crucial place for the entire European Union.

Another of our southern neighbours, Libya, can now embark fully on the road towards democracy and establish a provisional government. The country’s new political system will have to be based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms for all citizens. This Saturday, I will also be travelling to Libya to meet with our partners and discuss the most pressing issues. It gives me great satisfaction to be going there, to a country that is now truly free, and whose people have, after all, suffered so much for more than four decades of dictatorship under Muammar Gaddafi.

Another item of information is that last week, we received good news for Spain and all its people. The declaration made by the terrorist organisation ETA of a complete end to armed activity means that ETA has to voluntarily disband and all of its members have to lay down their arms. A great deal of respect is due for the many years of effort on the part of all of Spain’s democratic institutions and law and order authorities in combating terrorism. Democracy has once again prevailed over terrorism in this long-term and long-lasting battle. We also express our solidarity with the families of the 829 people who have been killed over more than 40 years of ETA’s terrorist activities.

We are receiving tragic news from Turkey, where more than 200 people were killed in the earthquake that hit the country on Sunday. On behalf of the European Parliament, I send my condolences to the families of those killed. I would like to ask all of you to rise to observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey.

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