Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-05-21-Speech-3-343"

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"First of all, I should like to express my sympathy for the relatives of the many victims of the natural disaster in Sichuan province on 12 May. The Chinese authorities fortunately acted promptly after the disaster. I also welcome the European Union response. I therefore wish to support the European institutions, the Commission and the Council, in the approach they have opted for so far. After initially refusing foreign help, China has opened its borders. The Chinese authorities themselves have said that they can use every possible assistance to deal with this widespread disaster. Japanese, South Korean and Russian rescue teams are already in the stricken area. I find that and the fact that the neighbouring countries of Singapore and Taiwan are providing aid very encouraging. Political relations with neighbouring countries are not always good and this might improve them. A great deal of attention has been devoted to the disaster in the national and international media. I am pleased that the press is being allowed access to the affected area and being given the opportunity to write what it wants and inform the rest of the country and the world. Transparency is important in obtaining a clear picture of the disaster and also in ensuring that the right aid is provided on the ground. That allows greater involvement by the rest of the population. A free press and good governance usually go hand in hand. A free press can report policy failings in good time and policies can be adjusted. Building and government supervision in that area also need to be discussed. Conclusions can be drawn for future building projects and recommendations can be made for better management and better official organisation. Natural disaster prevention and preparation are primary government responsibilities. It is only in recent years that these have been properly organised in many European countries too. Finally, I should like to ask the European Commission and the Council to offer China help if necessary to train the authorities and the civil service in drawing up plans for dealing with crises and disasters."@en1

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