Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Revolting spectacle of Mugabe

10th June 2008

Conservative MEP calls on Italy to utilise EU travel ban on Mugabe

Brussels, 10th June 2008 -- Italy should renegotiate its agreement with UN agencies based in Rome to stop the revolting spectacle of Robert Mugabe scoffing gourmet Italian cuisine while Zimbabweans starve, a leading Conservative MEP said today.

Dr Charles Tannock, Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs in Brussels, said the newly-elected Berlusconi government could strike a strong blow for human rights by reasserting control over who it allows to enter its territory on UN business.

Dr Tannock's comments come after Mugabe and his fellow international pariah Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran visited Rome last week for an emergency summit held at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Mugabe was able to defy an EU travel ban because of FAO's headquarters agreement with Italy which obliges the Italian government to allow people invited to UN meetings to enter Italy even if they would normally be banned from entering the country.

Dr Tannock will be raising the issue in a priority oral question to the Council at the next Strasbourg plenary session.

Dr Tannock said:

"The revolting spectacle of Mugabe enjoying fine Italian cuisine while his people starve and sticking up two fingers to the rest of the world should spur the Italian government into action.

"I hope Berlusconi will give serious thought to renegotiating the agreement with FAO to avoid this affront in the future.

"Italy should be able to invoke its obligations under the EU travel ban and refuse entry to Mugabe.

"It would send a powerful signal of solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe and Europe's support for human rights.

"Mugabe knows that the UN offers him a way of getting around the EU travel ban and he has used it repeatedly in the past few years."