Le besoin de leadership de l’Union européenne au Yémen

Marietje SCHAAKE, Députée ALDE, membre suppléante de la Commission des affaires étrangères et de la Sous-commission Droit de l’Homme.

The situation in Yemen is really a stain on our generation. It is something that should not go unanswered, even if the suffering is extraordinary, especially as the suffering is extraordinary, and even as answers are not easy. I think that is perhaps one reason why it is comfortable for many not to address the situation in Yemen, because there are no easy solutions, and we are very much aware of that.

But it cannot be accepted that the world turn a blind eye to cholera being back on the scale that it is, children dying of malnutrition, an extraordinary humanitarian catastrophe which is man-made. And so I am happy that this Parliament has continued to ask attention for this situation in Yemen, but also has urged for the EU to finally develop a new strategy. And we’ve been quite clear, 1 we need a new strategy, but also in two resolutions already we have been very explicit about the need for an arms embargo in exporting arms to Saudi Arabia. I initiated this last year, we adopted it in a majority then, and again a couple of weeks ago we reinforced this position. I think we cannot underline it enough.

I think it is very tragic that there is such division in the EU about what the role of the member States should best be, and so formulating EU strategy should hopefully bridge those differences, or can build on the special relations, ties and choices that each member State has made, but always in the interest of resolving this conflict, resolving this man-made humanitarian crisis, and negotiating peace.

Another aspect of the EU strategy should of course also be that there should be access for humanitarian aid. It’s unacceptable that even as a part of warfare, harbors are blocked and humanitarian aid cannot reach its desperately needy destinations, so I think that that should be a priority, too.

On top of that, we have to avoid that this spiral into further of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And it’s important to treat these two countries even-handedly, and to also make sure that they are treated even-handedly, but that the EU uses its so-called special or more evolved relationships with the Islamic Republic of Iran after negotiations on the nuclear deal, to now engage on what Iran can do to stop this atrocious situation. And same goes for Saudi Arabia, I personally spoke with the members of the Parliament in Saudi Arabia about the war in Yemen last week, it was not an easy conversation but at least it’s important it took place.

Lastly, what I think is, that it’s absolutely vital that there is accountability for the crimes against humanity that are perpetrated. The Dutch Government, the government of the country I know best, has sought an independent investigation into the crimes committed, led by the UN, and it is actually quite shocking the kinds of threats that came to push back against the independent inquiry, and the lack of European unity in pushing back against these kinds of threats. It’s ok to differ in opinion, but I think it’s unacceptable that a country like Saudi Arabia is threatening the Netherlands for asking for an independent investigation, … if there is nothing to hide you have to wonder why these threats are necessary at all.

So I believe that there are some evidence that I sketched for a new strategy but of course today’s events should also serve to inform us, for all of the experts to speak, and to bring to our attention what they think is important. Again, there are no easy solutions, but there is a desperate urgency to find them. And I hope that today’s events … and thank you again for bringing all the experts, and I hope today’s events will take a stand in the right direction and that we can continue to rate on the political agenda and that we can bring people together, and that we never forget that this is about an extraordinary man-made suffering of people in Yemen, it’s not an abstract notion, not a geopolitical challenge, but serious responsibility for all of us to try to find a solution.

Thank you.


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