The European Parliament debate with Baroness Ashton on Camp Ashraf

Press Release 11 May, 2011

Ms. Catharine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in reference to Ashraf today at the European Parliament in Strasbourg said:

“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 o

f 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 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.  We need to pursue and make sure that we find a correct course of action and inquiry, and our condemnation is absolute.”

Commenting on Baroness Ashton’s speech, Struan Stevenson, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq said:

“While expressing my appreciation and gratitude from Mrs. Ashton on her position on Ashraf, it has to be reiterated that Mrs. Ashton’s remarks and remarks of members of the European Parliament from various political groups and various countries in support of Ashraf and a peaceful solution were very encouraging. They clearly showed that the solution proposed by the European Parliament Delegation to Iraq, is a practical and logical solution and is the only solution that could prevent a new bloodbath. In addition to European support, in the past 24 hours, this solution has been actively supported by several political currents inside and outside of the Iraqi parliament and by scores of parliaments of other European countries.

“In addition to the European Union, once again we call on all the parties, in particular the US and the EU, for their active cooperation in implementing this plan and reiterate that any ultimatums on the imminent closure of Ashraf or for the relocation of the 3400 residents to other remote locations within Iraq are no longer relevant, practical or even legal under international humanitarian conventions. Any such actions would only be a prelude to another massacre.

“We call on all parties and individuals who in reality are interested in preventing another bloodbath and violence against Ashraf residents, to help in implementing the current plan and ask the government of Iraq to take the first necessary step to solving this crisis by accepting the pre-conditions that are articulated in the solution offered by our delegation.”

Struan Stevenson
President, European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq

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