Summary: 24 March 2011, Brussels - The European Parliament condemns the Bahrain's violent repression of demonstrators voicing their legitimate aspirations for democratic reforms and urges it to engage in political dialogue in a resolution passed on Thursday. Prompted by political and security developments in the Gulf, this updated resolution calls for a strengthening of strategic links with the Gulf Cooperation Council and its member countries.
The resolution prepared by Dominique Baudis (EPP, FR) and voted by a very large majority on Thursday calls for trade negotiations with the GCC and its members to be pursued, and for bilateral cooperation to be extended to the fields of education, research and energy. Parliament stresses the need to guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in particular the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Violence condemned, call for political dialogue
In the context of the current drive for democracy in certain GCC countries, MEPs call for an immediate end to the Bahraini authorities' violent repression of peacefully demonstrating citizens. Parliament is concerned that this repression is being supported by troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, under the GCC banner. It urges states in the region to acknowledge the aspirations of citizens and to engage in a political dialogue with emerging civil society for a peaceful transition to genuine democracy.
Free trade agreement and more extensive relations in the energy field
Parliament deplores the fact that despite 20 years of negotiations, an EU-Gulf free trade agreement has yet to be concluded, even though most of the work has been done. It calls for a definitive solution to bring this instrument of mutual prosperity, which could promote geopolitical stability, into effect. In the energy field, Parliament believes that synergies should be sought among GCC, Union for the Mediterranean and EU countries, notably in the fields of energy efficiency, measures to combat climate change, natural gas and nuclear safety.
Step up EU diplomatic presence
MEPs urge the EU to step up its diplomatic presence in the region, notably by establishing an EU delegation in each of the six GCC states (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuweit, Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar). With a view to the 20 April 2011 annual EU-GCC ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, MEPs ask that regular meetings be held at head of state level.
Procedure: non-legislative resolution