ACP-EU JPA debates the situation in Ethiopia

Statement by a representative of the Commission of the African Union
Debate: Monday, 20.11.2006
Vote: Thursday, 23.11.2006
Ahead of the vote on Thursday on the urgent resolution, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly debated the situation in East Africa. Of the ACP group of countries, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Northern Uganda all feature in the debate and in the resolution to be voted on by the 78 ACP countries and their 78 MEP counterparts. At this stage, no compromise resolution could be tabled as differences remain between the ACP and EU, in particular on the paragraphs relating to Ethiopia.

Michael GAHLER (EPP-ED, DE) stated that as one of the negotiators of the joint resolution, it had been rather difficult to find a compromise and he hoped that all the problems could be resolved in order for a joint resolution to be tabled. The JPA, he said, should be able to deliver very clear statements on all countries concerned.
On Ethiopia, Mr Gahler recalled that he had visited the country just one month ago and he found an “unsatisfactory situation.” Mr Gahler underlined that lawyers, human rights activists and opposition Members of Parliament had all been brought before the courts. National reconciliation was needed.
Ana GOMES (PES, PT) said that she did not advocate cutting ties with Ethiopia because of human rights abuses. She advocated the opposite approach with full engagement to press the regime to release political prisoners. She said the EU had made a difference in the past in Ethiopia and could do so again. Pressure needed to be put on certain officials and against Prime Minister Meles. It was important, she said, to see the bigger picture and for human rights to be protected and respected. The actions of the Ethiopian government were providing an excuse for the Eritreans to undermine some human rights.
Teshome Chanaka TOGA (Ethiopia) disagreed with the campaign by some EU parliamentarians. They were acting for an external interest and this interference had contributed to violence after the elections. He stressed that Ethiopia had the right to choose independence and would not kneel down to external pressure. Ethiopia would only act in the interests of the Ethiopian people. This external pressure had also reached the USA where evidence of the former military governments had put pressure on the American Congress. Ethiopia, he said, had suffered from external pressure in the past and he hoped that history would not repeat itself. However, he said that there was mutual interest in Ethiopia and that the relationship should be based on mutual trust.
The draft compromise resolution put forward by the European Parliament side.
On Ethiopia, where opposition party leaders, journalists and others who were taken into custody after the June and November 2005 violence are on trial on charges including “outrage against the Constitution, MEPs in the draft compromise “call on the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, journalists, trade union activists, human rights defenders, as well as ordinary citizens, and to fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.”
The vote on the urgent resolution takes place on Thursday, 23 November.

For more information:

Further information:
Richard Freedman
Press Centre – Sherbourne Conference Centre
Tel. (246) 467 8312
Mob. (32) 498 98 3239

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at1:22 AM


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