Plenary speech: Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2014 and the EU policy on the matter

Marietje
On December 16, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary about the annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2014 and the EU policy on the matter. Marietje Schaake (ALDE) Mr President, the list of real problems and threats to people’s universal rights is long and daunting: restrictions on speech, discrimination against women, threats to civil society. On the other hand, European instruments, guidelines, programmes and budget lines offer many opportunities for solutions. In reality, their success and the ability of the EU to push for real change depends on our willingness to lead politically. We can only lead credibly if it is by example. As we speak, in Europe today refugees and asylum seekers are treated and talked about in inhumane ways. That does not do justice to the painful lessons we have learned in history or to the promise this continent has for the next generation. Human rights are too often treated as a soft issue while I believe it is in our interest, and of course it is our responsibility, to be a beacon for those who are facing repression, intimidation, violence, torture or even death. Particularly the young generation growing up in, for example, North Africa and the Middle East, looks to Europe and sees a lot of deal making – deals with Turkey on refugees, deals with Iran on the nuclear problem. We cannot allow these deals and our interests to overshadow the key issue of human rights. I really want to object to this kind of cynical deal-making and urge all of us to recognise that we are at a critical moment in a changing world and it is important that we give meaning to our responsibilities. Bernd Lucke (ECR) posed a 'blue card' question to Ms Schaake: Frau Schaake, vielen Dank, dass Sie meine Frage akzeptieren, nachdem Frau Lochbihler eben gekniffen hat – was ich selten erlebt habe. Ich möchte Ihnen aber dieselbe Frage stellen: Sie weisen zu Recht darauf hin, dass es in der EU menschenunwürdiges Verhalten gibt, dass Flüchtlinge menschenunwürdig behandelt werden, und es ist insbesondere Griechenland, das dort im Zentrum der Kritik steht. Der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte und der EuGH haben seit 2009 in vielen Urteilen darauf hingewiesen. Die anderen europäischen Staaten dürfen Flüchtlinge nicht nach Griechenland zurückführen. Stimmen Sie mir zu, dass die Europäische Union dann ihre Hilfszahlungen an Griechenland davon abhängig machen sollte, dass Griechenland seine Flüchtlinge menschenwürdig behandelt? Marietje Schaake (ALDE), answer to the question of Bernd Lucke (ECR): I understand that you are seeking a kind of provocation to express your criticism of Greece, and you are free to do that, but I really think that we are at a critical moment where we have to look for real solutions. I see that in more cooperation, in giving humane shelter to asylum seekers and people fleeing violence in the Middle East, but also in finding solutions to those wars. It cannot be that we only recognise the importance of doing something when the challenge of violence through terrorism, or the challenge of asylum seekers through refugees, touches our own territory. Our role in this world is connected to that of others, and we have to work together in Europe to come up with real solutions.