European and national parliamentarians from both shores of the Mediterranean, meeting in Rome on Thursday, condemned the violence of the Gaddafi regime and expressed backing for movements seeking to bring democracy to the region. The aim: to send a clear, united message to strengthen the Union for the Mediterranean at this difficult historical juncture.
The PA-UfM brings together up to 280 parliamentarians from all members of the Union for the Mediterranean partnership. So far, delegations from the European Parliament, EU Member States, Croatia, Monaco, Montenegro, Algeria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Turkey have all confirmed their attendance.
“The South of the Mediterranean has undergone unimaginable changes bringing uncertainty and a grave crisis to the region, but also an opportunity to revamp the Union for the Mediterranean process. The Parliamentary Assembly is the only body able to work in these difficult circumstances, unlike the executive branch”, said MEP Tokia Saifi (EPP, FR), chairing the Assembly’s Political Committee.
Ms Saifi presented a draft recommendation on recent events in the Arab World which was backed by the committee and will be put to a plenary vote on Friday. The key messages agreed were:
- Solidarity of the Parliamentary Assembly (PA-UfM) with peaceful protesters and support for any move towards a transition to democracy coming from the societies themselves;
- Condemnation of Libya’s violent response, and support for UN and EU sanctions (referral to the International Criminal Court, arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes);
- A call for misappropriated funds “systematically plundered by irresponsible leaders” to be repatriated;
- A call on the Union for the Mediterranean governments to respond immediately with revamped instruments to support development and political changes in the region.
During the debate, Helene Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR) called for the resolution to mention the need for an operational EU initiative to cope with the refugee crisis originating in Libya. Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT) emphasised the need to revise not only the instruments of the Union for the Mediterranean but also the European Neighbourhood Policy with the South. Vicent Peillon (S&D, FR) favoured creating a Euro-Mediterranean Bank to help development in the South, similar to the bank created to help the transition of the former communist countries in eastern Europe.
Views from the South
The Syrian delegates supported “the revolution arising from aspirations of the educated youth” but called on MEPs to expressly say that there was “no need for military intervention from foreign countries” in the conflict.
Turkish MP Zeynap Dagi stressed that the uprisings reflected demands from people who were not radical and said they “prove that Islam and democracy are compatible”. Representatives from the Moroccan delegation condemned all violence against the Libyan people, saying “Gaddafi has lost any kind of legitimacy”.