EU lawmakers vow not to yield to Egyptian pressure
|Thursday, January 17,2008 18:40|
Senior European Union lawmakers vowed Thursday not to cave in to Egyptian pressure to vote down a resolution criticising Cairo for its human rights record. "The European Parliament is sovereign and decides what it wants to decide. If we have to criticise the rights situation in Egypt or Guantanamo or anywhere else, we"re going to do it," Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit told AFP. "I couldn"t care less what they think in the Egyptian capital," he said.
Earlier, the Egyptian foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of EU nations based in Cairo to express its "complete rejection" of a draft of the European Parliament"s resolution. "The ambassadors of 27 European Union countries have been summoned in order to inform them of Egypt"s complete rejection of a draft resolution over human rights in Egypt," a spokesman said in a statement.On Wednesday, the speaker of Egypt"s parliament threatened to sever links with the European assembly if it passes the resolution, according to the official MENA news agency. "The Egyptian parliament should discuss the contents of the resolution with us if they think it is exaggerated. That would be better than brandishing threats," said Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament"s Socialist bloc.
Liberal leader Graham Watson said: "I very much regret this. We pass resolution wherever there are human rights violations, including within the European Union." He described the draft, due to be adopted later Thursday, as "perfectly legitimate". The text criticises Egypt over the status of religious minorities, alleged torture practices and Egypt"s decades-long state of emergency. It also calls for the immediate release of jailed dissident Ayman Nur, who mounted an unprecedented campaign against President Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections. He was jailed for fraud in a conviction widely seen as politically motivated. International rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about human rights in Egypt, including continued crackdowns on political dissent.