Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Enlargement strategy 2009

Delivered in Plenary - 25th November 2009

Mr President

The ECR Group strongly supports European enlargement. By extending the benefits of EU membership to those countries that are eligible under Article 49, we hope to see develop the looser, more flexible Europe in which we believe as a group.

I happen to be the permanent rapporteur for Montenegro, which is a good news story in terms of progress towards membership, and it has just applied fairly recently. Nevertheless, I will also be visiting that country soon to make up my own mind and have an independent assessment.

I also welcome the fact that Iceland may be a candidate soon. But, still in the Balkans, Croatia’s bilateral border dispute with Slovenia must not be a barrier to joining the EU, and I hope that Macedonia will also be opening negotiations shortly.

With regard to Turkey, there remain many concerns over human rights, the ongoing blockade of Armenia, religious freedoms and the refusal to admit Cypriot ships to Turkish ports. It was also regrettable, in my mind, that Turkey recently invited to the OIC summit in Istanbul President Bashir of Sudan, a man indicted by the International Criminal Court for the horrors of Darfur.

Finally, although Ukraine is a country not directly linked to this debate, I hope also that, regardless of the results of the impending presidential elections in Ukraine, the EU will continue to hold out the possibility of eventual EU membership for Ukraine, if that is indeed the majority view of the people of Ukraine. By the same token, that should apply to Moldova and, one day, to Belarus, if it becomes a democratic country.