Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-02-Speech-3-130-000"

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"Mr President, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt triggered by anger at and intolerance of rising youth unemployment, brutal police methods, corruption and authoritarianism, as well as contempt for human rights, the freedom of speech and democratic principles, are challenges also facing the other Arab countries which are already wanting change. The events in Tunisia, which was regarded as a haven of stability and economic security, are strikingly similar to those which initiated the downfall of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe. They are providing the spark which heralds the collapse of the Arab pseudo model of stability and will trigger democratic changes in the region. The demands are clear and the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples would not agree to any half measures. Many of the prerequisites for the transition to democracy are already gaining ground, such as an active, well-organised civil society, a free press, respected opposition figures and existing political parties. However, we need to revise completely our current foreign policy, Baroness Ashton. The European Union should make a strategic choice, striking a balance between its political and economic interests and the democratic values which unite us. Europe must demonstrate that it stands squarely behind democracy and not merely supports stability in the region. The reason for this is that when change comes, people will remember who was on their side and who upheld the already impossible status quo."@en1

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