Plenary speech & Resolution on relations between the EU and the League of Arab States

Marietje
On March 11, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary meeting about the relations between the EU and the League of Arab States and cooperation in countering terrorism. According to Schaake, working together to fight terrorism is of great importance, but the EU must be vigilant. Members of the Arab League are systematically violating human rights. Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, to counter the horrific terrorist acts by ISIS and others, it is key that countries that see high numbers of victims of terrorism, as well as large numbers of perpetrators, are actively engaged in fighting back. As the King of Jordan said yesterday, the fight that is witnessed between terrorists and those who want to defend pluralism is a fight within Islam. It is important that countries of the Arab region take responsibility. Cooperation between the EU and Arab League states on counter-terrorism is welcome, yet clarification is needed. We call on the publication of the Memorandum of Understanding so that there is full transparency and we can see what is agreed. It is unfortunate that the press release by the External Action Service did not mention the importance of respecting human rights while cooperating on fighting terrorism; because in this House we have repeatedly been asked and forced to call for the respect for human rights, notably after the Arab uprisings, as they are often violated, precisely in the member states of the Arab League, severely and systematically. This kind of repression is too often legitimised by arguments of national security or by invoking counter-terrorism and the EU cannot and should not, directly or indirectly, be a part of legitimising repression in the name of counter-terrorism – not the repression of those that act entirely in line with their universal human rights. Sadly, from Bahrain to Egypt, from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, from Qatar to Sudan, we see this kind of repression. I think that we should take the lead in ensuring that security and freedom are integrally related and the EU must not be tempted by any short-term perspectives on interests while forgetting about the fundamental values upon which we base ourselves.
On March 12, a resolution on relations between the EU and the League of Arab States and cooperation in countering terrorism (2015/2573(RSP)) was adopted. The European Parliament , –  having regard to the resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on 24 September 2014 on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts (Resolution 2178 (2014)), –  having regard to the Riga Joint Statement following the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Riga of 29 and 30 January 2015, –  having regard to the activities of the EU-LAS liaison office in Malta, aimed at facilitating dialogue between the Commission and the Arab League, –  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, –  having regard to the declaration adopted at the Third European Union – League of Arab States Foreign Affairs Ministerial Meeting of 10 and 11 June 2014, –  having regard to the signing of a memorandum of understanding, on 19 January 2015, between Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, representing the European Union and the League of Arab States respectively, –  having regard to the EU Internal Security Strategy, as adopted by the Council on 25 February 2010, –  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on counter-terrorism, in particular those of 9 February 2015, –  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on anti-terrorism measures(1) , –  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Egypt(2) , –  having regard to its previous resolutions concerning countries of the League of Arab States (LAS), –  having regard to the statement by VP/HR Federica Mogherini of 19 January 2015, –  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure, A.  whereas terrorism and violent extremism are major threats to security and freedoms at global level and whereas respect for fundamental rights is an essential element of successful counter-terrorism policies; B.  whereas terrorism is a global threat that needs to be tackled in a coordinated effort by national governments and regional and international organisations; stresses that only a global alliance can address this threat effectively, in full compliance with international law, fundamental values and international human rights standards; C.  whereas on 19 January 2015 the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (LAS), Nabil El Araby, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the General Secretariat of the LAS; D.  whereas the content of the 2015 memorandum of understanding between the EEAS and the General Secretariat of the LAS is not public; E.  whereas the EU and the LAS share a common interest in long-lasting solutions to ensure regional peace and stability; whereas this memorandum of understanding is intended to support and strengthen relationships between the Member States of the EU and the Members of the LAS to enhance their working structures, exchange experience and dialogue in order to achieve common goals and objectives in areas of mutual interest; F.  whereas the phenomenon of fighters from Europe travelling to different locations to fight in the jihad, and the security threat they may pose inside the EU when they return, are likely to persist in the coming years; whereas thousands of EU nationals are reported to have left their homes to become foreign fighters with the outbreak of war and violence in Syria, Iraq and Libya, posing an additional challenge to EU citizens’ security; whereas the recent terrorist acts in Paris and Copenhagen were committed by EU nationals; G.  whereas the spread of terrorist propaganda is facilitated by the use of the internet and social media; whereas cyberterrorism enables terrorist groups to establish and maintain links without the physical obstacle of borders, thus reducing the need to have bases or sanctuaries in countries; H.  whereas there are serious and systematic violations of human rights in member countries of the League of Arab States; I.  whereas civil society organisations that the EU considers to be exercising their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are labelled as terrorist organisations by governments of members of the LAS; whereas, increasingly, counter-terrorism and national security are cited to legitimise crackdowns on opposition figures, civil society and journalists; J.  whereas the EU’s external policies must contribute to countering the terrorist threat, which is escalating in certain parts of its neighbourhood; whereas prevention strategies to combat terrorism should rely on a plural approach aimed at directly countering the preparation of attacks on Union territory, but also at integrating the need to address the root causes of terrorism; K.  whereas the EU condemns the application of the death penalty and the application of cruel and inhumane punishment all over the world, including for those convicted of committing acts of terrorism; 1.  Expresses its profound dismay at the level of human suffering and loss of life due to terrorist attacks and expresses its solidarity with the families of all innocent victims; 2.  Underlines the fact that terrorism poses a direct threat to all countries and all people regardless of their ethnic background, religion or belief; 3.  Asks for the MoU to be published so that its content can be subject to democratic and judicial oversight; 4.  Calls on the Council to work on a harmonised, unambiguous definition of terrorism with all the member states of the LAS; 5.  Stresses the importance of cooperation on humanitarian assistance issues through the exchange of information on crisis situations; underlines the importance of sharing, as appropriate, assessments and best practices, as well as of cooperating in identifying practical steps to help address the threats, including more effective action to counteract radicalisation, recruitment and travel by terrorists and foreign fighters, as well as dealing with fighters returning to their place of departure; 6.  Reiterates its position that, in the fight against terrorism, it is crucial to address not only the consequences but also the underlying factors of radicalisation, and underlines the need for a comprehensive cross-sectoral approach guaranteeing the involvement of all the policies concerned, including the importance of promoting a culture of inclusion and tolerance through, for instance, education, and social and regional policies; 7.  Notes that the present terrorist threat in the EU and the Arab states has among its main causes jihadist extremism; endorses the view that a policy aiming at deradicalisation and combating terrorism cannot be effective unless it is developed with the close cooperation of the countries of origin; 8.Calls on the authorities of EU and LAS member states to respect the prohibition of torture as it is most notably enshrined in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which most of them have signed and ratified; reiterates that forced confessions under torture are not valid; 9.  Reaffirms the need to maintain a balance between freedom and security in response to the terrorist threats and to consider all measures to be taken from the point of view of the compatibility of these measures with the rule of law and the requirements of fundamental rights; 10.  Welcomes, in general, the cooperation and partnership between the EU and third countries to counter terrorism; welcomes the establishment of an EU-LAS Strategic Dialogue, including exchanges on political and security matters, the exchange of regular meetings of the EU Political and Security Committee and the Arab Permanent Representatives, and commends the progress made in the field of early warning and crisis response, in particular the full implementation of the Early Warning and Crisis Response Project; 11.  Recalls, however, that counter-terrorism measures may never be abused to repress legitimate dissent, or to violate people’s universal human rights; calls on the EU to build clear safeguards into its cooperation with third countries, to ensure it does not directly or indirectly support or legitimise the repression of legitimate organisations and individuals in the name of countering terrorism; 12.  Stresses that the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the EU and the LAS also agreed to continue work on the comprehensive implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; supports the fact that they welcomed the establishment of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre with the initiative of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, and asked for support to be given to this centre, and that they welcomed the holding of the first international Conference on Combating Terrorism, in Baghdad in March 2014, as an opportunity to discuss and seek appropriate means and ways to promote international cooperation and combat terrorism at regional level; 13.  Reaffirms the importance of cooperation between the EU and the LAS in the field of human rights, emphasising the significance of continuing to promote and protect human rights and uphold all human rights for all, including the right to economic and social development, freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, while also promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence between different religions and rejecting exclusion, extremism, incitement and dissemination of hatred and violence; 14.  Calls on the Council to verify whether there have been breaches of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports in relation to repression; 15.  Calls for the EU to develop, in cooperation with the League of Arab States, a dedicated mechanism aiming to curb the phenomenon of arms trafficking, in particular targeting the countries where terrorism originates from or where the terrorists are trained; calls for the EU to closely monitor the implementation of arms exports, particularly of dual-use technology that might end up being instrumentalised by terrorists; believes that is essential to counter the financing of terrorism in coordination with relevant actors including the LAS and its members; 16.  Believes that the EU must rethink the prevailing weakness that characterised earlier counter-terrorism cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination through which foreign fighters and the resources to support them have been channelled, including Member States of the LAS; 17.  Stresses that a comprehensive EU strategy on anti-terrorism measures, based on an approach combining diplomatic, socio-economic, development, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and crisis management tools, must also make full use of its foreign and development policies in order to combat poverty, discrimination and marginalisation, to fight corruption and promote good governance and to prevent and resolve conflicts, all of which contribute to the marginalisation of certain groups and sectors of society and thus make them more vulnerable to extremist group propaganda; 18.  Recalls that the international community has committed itself to the adoption of measures that ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism, through the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the General Assembly in its Resolution 60/288; 19.  Reminds the Member States and EU agencies, including Europol and Eurojust, of their obligations under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and international human rights law and of the EU’s external policy objectives; 20.  Reiterates its position that the rights of religious minorities are inextricably linked to respect for other fundamental human rights and freedoms, such as the right to liberty, security, equal opportunities between men and women and freedom of expression, and calls on the LAS, the EEAS and the member states of both organisations to protect religious minorities in the Arab world and fully implement the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief; 21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0032.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0012.