Leading figures from across the political spectrum have joined together to call on the European Union to reflect on the lessons of the fall of Communism two decades ago when considering how to respond to the current wave of revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
Leading figures from across the political spectrum have joined together to call on the European Union to reflect on the lessons of the fall of Communism two decades ago when considering how to respond to the current wave of revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. In a letter (£) to the Financial Times, Lord Mandelson, Lord Ashdown, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and others say the West should offer support to the free regimes – but with conditions.
“As European politicians start to formulate a response to the changes in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) they should reflect on the lessons from the last mass pro-democracy movement which occurred as the Berlin Wall fell more than 20 years ago.
“The support that western Europe offered the east at that time has strengthened the whole of the region both politically and economically in the subsequent two decades.
“If the European Union wants to influence its southern neighbours, with which it shares so much common history, it must make a wider offer in terms of aid, markets and mobility. That means more generous and better targeted development packages, removing the last barriers to the import of fruit and vegetables from the region, and adopting more flexible visa regimes.
“The customs union between the EU and Turkey could be extended to North African countries.
“But the generous offer must be coupled with strict conditionality to raise standards of governance and improve human rights.
“As a first step towards this, MENA countries should begin the process of incorporating into their law the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Turkey is a signatory. The EU should give technical and moral support to this process, which would remain a sovereign decision but one that would help to embed a new judicial and political culture in these countries.”
The letter is signed by Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock, Paddy Ashdown, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, James Purnell (chair, Institute for Public Policy Research), Charles Grant (director, Centre for European Reform), and ippr director Nick Pearce.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.