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Human Rights GLBT Rights Europe D66 ALDE/ELDR European Parliament

Why I will vote against enlargement now

   Fri 24/05/2002

"Countries that do not respect human rights are not welcome in the EU", Dutch member of the European Parliament Lousewies van der Laan will argue next week in Prague. "The assertion that the so-called Copenhagen political criteria are currently fulfilled by 12 of the 13 candidates is nonsense". The European Commission regular reports make it clear that many problems remain in the area of fundamental rights. Nevertheless the 15 Member States repeat that they wish to stick to the timetable for accession in 2004 by 10 countries. "This makes a mockery of the criteria", argues Van der Laan, "it also confirms to our citizens that we do not take their concerns about enlargement seriously. In the long run this attitude will threaten the enlargement process".

The Liberal Democrat will visit the Czech Republic next week and hold a speech Tuesday (28 May, 14.00) at the EU Information Centre entitled "Why I will vote against enlargement now". Ms van der Laan voted against Cyprus´ membership last year because of discrimination against homosexuals in the Cypriot legislation. The same laws exist in Hungary. In addition many applicant countries have persistent problems with discrimination, corruption and pre-trial arrests. Unless it is made clear that these problems need to be resolved before membership, the EU loses the capability to improve the human rights situation. "It is not acceptable that some politicians will vote against enlargement because we in Europe have not completed the necessary reforms, for example in agriculture. That is not the applicant's fault. But we should hold them to the previously agreed criteria, notably the political ones. Human rights are not negotiable".

Ms van der Laan is in Prague as part of a Delegation of Liberal Democrat leaders. She will also have a debate with students at the Kolkovna pub on Monday evening (address: V Kolkovne 8, Praha 1 - Old Town, Tel. 2481-9701 - please reserve a place). She can be reached at the Hotel Grand Bohemia, Kralodvorska 4 CZ, Prague. tel: +420 2 2480 41 11, fax: +420 2 2329 545. GSM: +31 6 212 86940 from Monday 27 May (18.00) until Tuesday 28 May (15.00).

Next Wednesday, the Liberal Group of the European Parliament is organising a seminar on the political criteria with the participation of the Open Society Institute (Budapest) and Amnesty International. For more information: Phil Tod, Liberal Spokesman + 32 486 44 04 97.

For more information: European Union Information Centre Daniela Cervova, Director Rytirska 31, 110 00 Prague 1 tel: +420 2 216 10 142-3 fax: +420 2 216 10 144 e-mail: [email protected] www.evropska-unie.cz http://europa.eu.int http://ue2002.es

Office of Ms van der Laan European Parliament Brussels: 00 32 2 284 7797/5797 The Hague: 00 31 70 311 9666 Andor Admiraal, Spokesman GSM: 00 31 6 24 26 24 65 [email protected] www.vanderlaan.net