Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Humanitarian crisis in North Korea

Delivered in Plenary - January 16th 2003

Madam President

As North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Il sips his specially imported French brandy and savours his freshly cooked pizzas cooked by two Italian chefs, as he mulls over what he will say to the UN envoy, many thousands of his oppressed subjects, including babies, are literally starving to death as his disastrous Stalinist economic policies have brought the country to its knees.

Even worse is that many of his people are rotting as political prisoners in re-education camps where they are being tortured and beaten. The country outrageously styles itself 'the Democratic People's Republic of Korea', and yet the people have never been consulted, as Mr Kim inherited his mandate from his late dictator father.

Not only has that country, which is a brutal, secretive, communist dictatorship, repeatedly violated international agreements such as the 1994 one to end its bomb-making uranium enrichment programme, it has also in the past violated every standard of civilised behaviour, from kidnapping Japanese civilians - which the government justified, almost unbelievably, on the grounds of needing language instructors for its spies - to engaging in political assassinations such as blowing up the South Korean cabinet in Rangoon a few years ago. It was also responsible for blowing up a South Korean airliner.

More recently, which is the reason for my motion for resolution, it has starved many thousands of its people to death due to its disastrous isolationist economic policies and the fact that it has chosen to maintain one million men under arms with an immoral diversion of food and resources to the military, irrespective of the deprivation suffered by its civilian population. It remains a failing and rogue state and a very dangerous one at that. It could wreak havoc on South Korea with which it is technically still at war.

Consequently the EU must tread carefully and concentrate on delivering humanitarian aid to its long-suffering people. Nevertheless aid donors must still insist on verification procedures to ensure that the food gets through to those it is intended for and is not given to the army or, worse still, resold to raise cash for more armaments or luxuries for its political and military elite.