Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-16-Speech-3-012"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to emphasise once again on behalf of my Group what I said to you, Prime Minister, on two occasions in Ljubljana: as the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, we are prepared to support your Presidency in any way we can. It is – as you have rightly said – a historic Presidency. The Presidency of a state that has emerged from a communist dictatorship – and this should not be belittled – with a Prime Minister who was himself a victim of this dictatorship, is in fact a Presidency that not only deserves the full support of all democrats, but also has a great opportunity to recapture the hearts of the people again because it gives us here in Parliament as well as in Europe the opportunity once again to show that change is possible and in the long run freedom always prevails and democracy will always triumph! I have a request for you, Commission President. In Germany the relocation of Nokia is currently the subject of great debate. You have just said that the strength of Europe’s economy lies in its small and medium-sized enterprises. This is correct, but we also still have an enormous share in industrial jobs. In my country the Minister for Economic Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia is now asserting that this relocation of Nokia from Bochum in Germany to Romania would be financed by EU funds. I don’t believe it, but please could you check it and clarify that this is not the case, because rhetoric such as this, as bitter and painful as it is, if not true, is also simply grist to the mill of those who are against the construction of a united Europe. Clarification is therefore very important here. One final comment to the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Commission. Yes, Walter Hallstein was a great man. As one of the founding fathers of the European Union and one of the Presidents of the Commission, he made a huge contribution, but the extent to which those who would imitate Hallstein have already removed themselves from his founding work can be seen in you, Mr President, 50 years on. Mr Hallstein was a fervent advocate of Turkey’s membership of the European Union. You are indeed somewhat sceptical of this, as are all your colleagues. In this respect yes, Walter Hallstein was a great European! Your country is also proof of this: no dictatorship in the world will survive in the long run. It may do so for 10, 30 or 100 years, but in the end democracy always triumphs, and this is a positive sign. Your introductions, refreshing in their objectiveness, should set the tone for the whole of 2008. I do not know what awaits us in the second half of the year, but we have at least discussed policy today and that is something we very much appreciate. The fact that today we have been discussing policy rather than personal matters is perhaps the first difference to the second half of this year. It is striking, however, that we have already established a few differences. One difference I would like to expand on is that yes, the enlargement of the European Union is not over. Yes, the enlargement of the European Union is currently under negotiation. Yes, it is under negotiation with Macedonia, yes it is under negotiation with Croatia and yes, it is under negotiation with Turkey. You have revealed that you are seeking negotiations with Turkey with the aim of membership. The Council Presidency for the second half of 2008 does not want this. What we want, however, is clarity from the Council. Are negotiations currently taking place with Turkey with the aim of membership or not? This is one of the crucial points you will need to clarify first as best you can in the framework of the Troika during your Presidency of the Council. The second difference – and we have listened very attentively to this – is that you consider the European institutions strong enough to organise the neighbourhood policy themselves by their own efforts. Well said! This is a clear rebuff to the separate institutions of the Mediterranean Union proposed by your heir presumptive to the office of Council President. Very good - we support you in this, too! We can therefore see a few rifts lurking in the Council, but you can rely on the fact that the Socialist Group at least is on your side, Mr Janša. The President-in-Office of the Council has talked about the opening up of the Schengen borders. This, too, is an important point and I thank you for this commitment to the great opportunity that the associated freedom of movement offers our citizens. I thank you, too, for the clear declaration – from a state like Slovenia, a state with your country’s history – that you see it as an opportunity for the freedom of your people, because by it you are also sending out a signal against the far right in Europe, which abuses every one of these freedoms with its rhetoric of fear against Europe and makes people afraid of any imponderable developments instead of reassuring them of the opportunities that freedom brings."@en1

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