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The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament welcome Saturday’s special meeting of the European Council dedicated to the EU´s external relations. At the same time, S&D MEPs have criticised the failure of the EU institutions to react fast enough as the crises in the EU’s neighbourhood have intensified in recent weeks.
Speaking on Ukraine, S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs, Knut Fleckenstein warned:
“We are extremely concerned about the news of a military escalation on the Ukrainian-Russian border, with increasing numbers of fighters and weapons coming in from the Russian Federation. We demand an immediate ceasefire and the re-establishment of Ukrainian control over its border.
“We insist that there can be no military solution to the crisis and we consider the bilateral meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents in Minsk on 26 August to be a step forward. As much pressure as possible should be exerted on both presidents to continue the talks. We urge the EU to facilitate the continuation of this dialogue.”
He continued by warning of the threat in Iraq and Syria:
“We firmly condemn the indiscriminate killings carried out by the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS). With an expansionist and genocidal agenda, the IS represents a grave threat to the stability and security of the Middle East and the wider world.
“There is an urgent need to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq caused by the exodus of more than 1 million people fleeing the IS offensive. Given the transnational nature of the IS threat, a comprehensive strategy is needed to deal with it both in Iraq and Syria – including a military component – together with our allies.
“We particularly call on the Council to explore ways to co-operate with key players such as Iran and Turkey in countering the IS threat. Pressure should be applied on states in the region to stop the flow of finances to the IS and other jihadist organisations.
“We fully support the efforts of the newly designated Iraqi prime minister Haider Al-Abadi to form a truly inclusive government, and we call on Iraq’s political forces to complete this process swiftly.
“We also call on the Justice and Home Affairs Council to co-ordinate the EU’s approach, including the exchange of information between EU member states and all other measures aimed at tackling the threat of jihadist terrorism in Europe.”
Finally, Knut Fleckenstein addressed the situation in Libya:
“We are very concerned about the increasing challenges facing the central government in Tripoli and extremist groups gaining a territorial foothold in the south of Libya. The House of Representatives and Libya’s interim government are the only legitimate bodies representing the Libyan people. The humanitarian crisis in Libya needs to be addressed urgently and the arms embargo to the country enforced.”
S&D MEP Elena Valenciano Martínez-Orozco, chair of the Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, added:
“Respect for human rights, throughout the world, as well as a renewed focus on the humanitarian dimension, must once more become the biggest priorities for the EU’s foreign policy.
“Access for humanitarian aid and assistance must also be guaranteed in every crisis.”