Ashton Calls for a thorough and independent inquiry in to Camp Ashraf attack

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission

Speech on main aspects and basic choices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence policy

European Parliament  Strasbourg, 11 May 2011

Mr President, Honourable Members,

I will make three contributions to the Parliament today, but I want to start by giving you my vision of the issues that we face, and also to touch upon on some other important issues.

In Camp Ashraf in Iraq: what happened on 8th April in Camp Ashraf is deplorable, and has my strongest condemnation. I have been adamant that we need a strong and united EU response. I wrote to the Foreign Minister of Iraq, and spoke to him again yesterday. While I do not question Iraq’s sovereignty over all its territory, it has a duty to protect the human rights of Ashraf residents.

I have condemned the violence, and called for an inquiry – an inquiry that has to be as thorough as it is independent, and which should tell us exactly what happened. But, honourable members, there is no simple solution here – several options for a long term solution are being considered, with the UN in the lead. All present challenges. I am grateful for the European Parliament’s contributions: and I will take this to the Foreign Affairs Council, and discuss it in detail with the UNHCR. Our Ambassador to Iraq arrives today, and she knows the importance I attach to this issue. We need to pursue and make sure that we find a correct course of action and inquiry, and our condemnation is absolute.

In Yemen too, where the Gulf Cooperation Council has put forward its proposals, and President Saleh has once again hesitated. I spoke to him not long ago – we talked about his discussions with the opposition, and the proposals on the table. I told him he knew what he had to do – in the interests of his country – and that he should do it. In my meetings in the Gulf, when I met with the King of Bahrain: we discussed the initiative for dialogue without preconditions that the Crown Prince has put forward, and I urged him to pursue that dialogue. The current course is not the answer – we need to see fair and civil trials, and that the death penalty is avoided in all circumstances.

In all of these cases it is about the direct engagement that we have, and the pressure we apply, and the directness of our approach. I am very clear with all the leaders I speak to about what needs to happen. I do this with the support of this house and 27 Member States.

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