Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Middle East

Delivered in Plenary - March 30th 2004

The Middle East is constantly in the news which is hardly surprising. It is after all the spiritual home of the 3 great revealed religions of the world and sadly the inspiration as well for those misguided few who invoke Islam as the justification for terrorist killings. Yesterday this was tragically seen in a suicide bomb attack in far away Uzbekistan by an Islamist group killing 30 innocent civilians.

It is the source of vital oil supplies to the west and the location of one of the longest and bloodiest disputes between the Arab world and Israel. It is also the location of some of the most ruthless regimes ranging from Saddam's Iraq to the current government of Iran. Saudi Arabia is also brutal in its decapitations for misdemeanours like alcoholism. The Middle-East is a source of many of the EU's refugees particularly from Kurdistan, and of course if we allow Turkey in the EU' borders will stretch, into the Middle East to face Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Therefore stabilising this region in peace, democracy, good governance with the rule of law and respect for human rights is essential to the EU's interests as well as the long suffering people there who have suffered under tyrranical governments for so long.

This is why I support the two state solution for a democratic Palestine alongside the State of Israel but remain critical of the EU money which was given in Direct Budgetary Assistance without adequate safeguards to prevent diversion of funds to corruption and terrorism in a theatre of war and a zone where such practice is commonplace. Tomorrow the Parliament's Working Group looking at this will be publishing 2 separate reports and I will be supporting the minority version. This is why I supported and continue to support the liberation of Iraq from Baathist tyranny and remain optimistic that eventually we will see a new Iraq emerge which will serve as a catalyst for democratic change elesewhere in the region. Lastly I hope to see more dialogue between moderate moslem leaders and the EU's political classes if we are to avoid the much feared clash of civilisation scenario.