Joint initiative for peace, stability and democracy throughout the Middle East
Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, there is talk these days of a new Middle East policy, of a greater Middle East. If it is not all going to be hot air, then in my opinion two things in particular must remain at the heart of such a policy.Firstly, resolution of the main conflict in the Middle East. I wish the US would devote as much energy – by which I do not mean military manpower – to solving the actual Middle East problem as it is doing to Iraq. I would also like Europe to expend as much energy solving the Middle East problem as some European Union Member States are doing in the case of Iraq, because there would then be fewer terrorist attacks and there would be fewer illegal killings like that of Sheikh Yassin. As Commissioner Patten said, the culture of death must be defeated and destroyed.Secondly, yes, the Arab world does indeed need reforms. Unlike many of my fellow Members here, however, I have not seen much evidence of the Americans supporting the reform movements in Jordan, Egypt or Saudi Arabia in recent years. I have not noticed them supporting democracy and human rights in those countries very much. If the United States of America is now taking up that cause, I am very much in favour of joining them in supporting the reform efforts inside the Arab countries. There are enough women who are dissatisfied with the continuing severe discrimination against women. There are enough minorities who are dissatisfied with the discrimination against minorities. There are enough people in the Arab countries who are dissatisfied with discrimination and disregard for human rights and the rights of minorities. Not long ago, we welcomed to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy people who had recently written a report showing where the obstacles lie, obstacles to modernisation and democratisation recognised by the Arab countries themselves.I believe the only practical way forward for a new Middle East policy is not to threaten outside military intervention but for Europe, in particular, to support the reform forces in the Arab countries. We should be doing more, spending more money and of course also using much more energy to drive those important reforms in the Arab countries forward.