Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66), wants the EU to conduct a firm dialogue with Saudi Arabia about human rights, freedoms and the role of the country in the region. Tomorrow, the European Parliament votes on a report about EU policies towards the kingdom. Schaake: "Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in an increasingly fragile Middle East. The EU needs to use the ties it has to the country to urge it to play a more constructive and positive part. Human rights in the country itself need to be improved and the cynical realpolitik it practices outside its borders must be addressed." Values before interests Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where human rights such as freedom of expression and the equality of man and woman, are seriously constricted. "Because of interests in the energy and defence sector, European member states have been silent for far too long about the dire conditions under which many in Saudi Arabia have to live. The lack of freedom and democracy are deplorable and EU foreign policy chief Ashton needs to take the initiative to address this. By pursuing our values instead of our interests, we can better help those people who need it most, the Saudi Arabian population", says Schaake. Sustainable solutions Saudi Arabia is often accused of giving financial support to extremist and jihadist groups in other countries. The country also played an instrumental part in the violent repression of the demonstrations in Bahrain since 2011. "In cooperation with Saudi Arabia, the EU needs to show that these kinds of actions do not provide sustainable solutions to the problems it faces. Extremists are also a danger to Saudi Arabia and without reform, Bahrain remains instable." Saudi Arabia also nervously eyes the developments regarding its regional rival, Iran. Schaake: "Here too, the EU could play a part as a negotiator between the two countries. If they could see eye to eye, many tensions in the regions could be addressed much more easily."