Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-05-22-Speech-2-562-000"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am very grateful that we have the opportunity to discuss this planned free trade agreement today. Despite all the outstanding problems in some countries and in Colombia in particular, we must not forget what the situation was like here just a few years ago. We did not start from a blank slate. Only a few years ago, Colombia was in an extremely difficult position which involved major problems with terrorism. The most recent governments have done a great deal to improve the living conditions of the people. Anyone who claims that there have not been dramatic improvements in Colombia in recent years is simply not speaking the truth. Of course, it is important that the situation continues to develop and that further improvements are introduced. However, it is clear to all of us when we look at our position here in Europe that we cannot resolve all of our problems overnight either. Improvements take time. A great deal has already been achieved, for example, with regard to democracy and to security and the dramatic improvements in this area, with regard to the measures to combat terrorism and with regard to trade unionists, a subject referred to by the previous speaker. I believe that the protection programme for trade unionists established by the Colombian Government is unprecedented. Unfortunately, it has not yet succeeded in putting a stop to the murders. Sadly, people are still being murdered here in Europe as well. We must not dismiss the improvements that have been made. Much has been done for trade unionists and trade union officials in Colombia in recent years. What should our response be? Should we close the door on these countries? Should we say that, despite the huge improvements over the last few years, they have, in our opinion, simply not done enough? Should we say that all the negotiations have been wasted? Should we say that we do not recognise all the improvements? Should we say that we do not want to maintain the dialogue and keep the lines of communication open in future? If we really want to work together to help the governments in both countries to improve the living conditions of their people, then, in my opinion, trade is a part of this process. We also need to open up our market in Europe to products from Colombia and Peru and give these countries the opportunity to become more prosperous. We need to lay the foundations for further improvements in the everyday lives of the people. Therefore, given all the work still to be completed in these countries, I believe that the action plan referred to in the motion for a resolution is a positive step. However, I would like to ask all the Members of this House not to focus on the outstanding problems. We must help the people of Colombia, but, most importantly, we should also take into account the fact that in recent years, a lot has been achieved for the benefit of the people in these countries."@en1

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