Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-06-14-Speech-3-189"

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"Why is Europe silent about human rights in Tunisia? Is it on account of the stability and economic progress which this holiday destination enjoys? Is it because of the political links with France or the European socialists? Or because it has adopted a constructive stance in the peace process in the Middle East? Or do we see Tunisia mainly as a bulwark against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism? At any rate, President Ali only has the religious fanatics in mind. He seems to be obsessed by them. But this concern is more of an alibi than a justification for the human rights situation in his country. Not only Muslim fundamentalists, but all political opponents are systematically silenced. Tunisia calls itself a democracy, a democracy without opposition that is, without freedom of the press, without fair judicial processes and with torture and the elimination of political prisoners and their families. Tunisia has concluded an association agreement with the European Union which contains a clear human rights clause. There can, of course, be no question of President Ben Ali’s claiming rights under the agreement but shirking his obligations under it. If the violations continue, the Treaty will unfortunately need to be suspended. Would Commissioner Patten agree with me there? Tunisia is the first Mediterranean Sea partner with which this association agreement has been concluded. Given its economic development, it can act as a model for the entire region, but it should then, of course, meet the political criteria. The European Union cannot allow one agreement partner that which it denies another. The Association Council must, therefore, look into the human rights situation as a matter of great urgency and draft a democratisation programme. If the European Union keeps quiet any longer, it will be partly responsible for the human rights violations in Tunisia."@en1

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