What are some examples of isthmus

The president. - The next item is the report by Mr Carnero González (A40418 / 96), on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defense Policy, on the communication from the Commission to the Council on the renewal of the San José dialogue between the European Union and Central America (COM (95) 0600 - C4-0102 / 96).

Carnero González (GUE / NGL), rapporteur. (ES) Mr President, it is enough to take a quick look to see that Central America from the beginning of the 1980s and Central America from the mid-1990s no longer have much in common. For the isthmus, plagued by military regimes, open armed conflicts and ongoing violations of human rights, has become a region in which pluralistic political systems that have emerged from general elections are making their first attempts, in which human rights are better respected and in which agreements were concluded that keep the arms silent and regard national reconciliation as a principle and also as a goal.

The basis for this change for the better, from darkness to hope, is the end of the Cold War, but of course also the efforts of the Central Americans themselves. But the European Union has also made its contribution here, which has been taking place for more than a decade within the framework of the so-called San José Dialogue. This process is one of the Union's foreign policy actions, which can only rightly be added to the credit side of these actions. Above all, if one considers that under the adverse circumstances of the aggressive policies of the United States, which was a feature of the so-called Reagan era, this process began, took its first steps, and was and is ultimately being sustained.

Despite all the successes, we must not be blind to the fact that there is still much to be done in Central America, both politically and socio-economic, in order to achieve a sufficiently acceptable situation. The growing democracy in the rule of law must be strengthened, the human rights of the individual and society must be fully respected, which among other things requires the establishment of an independent judicial system with which one can fight against the damnable impunity.

It will also be necessary for the European Union to work towards the conclusion and implementation of the peace agreements that have already been signed; the last of its kind was signed between the government of Guatemala and the commanders of the URNG on December 29th last year, which was really good news.

Above all, it will be a matter of combating the huge economic and social disparities which result from the persistent underdevelopment and which result in increasing inequalities, poverty, exclusion and exclusion from society. We must not only resume the San José dialogue, but intensify it and expand it as much as possible, underline its fundamental objectives and provide all the instruments necessary to achieve them. In addition to the political and social goals already mentioned, these goals should include two more, which in turn include them: Firstly, the correct and acceptable integration of Central America into the world economy, not with adaptation and regulatory measures, but with strategies that are human and ecological Promote sustainable development models and, secondly, support regional integration.

The proposals in the report that I am presenting on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs today go in these directions, but I would like to point out a few other points.

A CFSP global action program for Central America with sufficient funding and the corresponding framework agreement for cooperation should go hand in hand with a financial protocol that provides for a significant increase in funds for cooperation with Central America. This program should include measures for the modernization and deepening of the rule of law, for example on the fight against impunity, the promotion of human rights, support for refugees and returnees, the democratic control of the armed forces and the reduction of military spending as well as the protection of the indigenous people or women; also the extension of the new general system of preferences, which already applies to the countries of the Andean Pact, to Central American industry; an at least partial cancellation of foreign debt for the countries of the region; Support the fight against drug trafficking and, ultimately, all measures to improve the quality of life and achieve greater justice through, as I said, the fight against poverty, marginalization and exclusion.

If we are committed to intensifying the political dialogue between the European Union and Central America, we must also advocate that the European Parliament and PARLACEN, the only two parliaments in the world that have been elected supranationally by universal suffrage, are increasingly involved ; Furthermore, an advisory forum must be set up with all socially relevant forces in which initiatives such as ICIC and bodies such as CIFCA have their place or can participate.

We should also reiterate our wish that the European Commission should have sufficient people and resources in this area to do its job in the best possible way.

Mr President, I believe that we must continue the positive work that has been done so far, but that it is necessary to work tirelessly, continue and develop this work, because there is still much to be done between Central America and Europe.

Newens (PSE). - Mr President, the contribution that the European Union has made through the San José Dialogue to ending the terrible civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and, more recently, Guatemala is substantial and clearly shows the positive role that Europe has played Union can play on the world stage.

Ironically, however, with the establishment of peace, the attention paid to the area is likely to decrease dramatically, despite the fact that many of the basic problems are far from being resolved. This report is important because it points out the basic needs in the region and clearly specifies the policies that the European Union should now be pursuing.

The San José process should continue to provide an opportunity for an exchange of views and deliberations not only through the conferences - at two of which I was able to speak on behalf of Parliament - but also through greater involvement of the citizens of the region. It is important now to take all possible steps to draw attention to the prevention of new human rights violations and to resist the temptation to cover up past violations through general amnesties and the like.

Efforts must also be focused on social issues. A large number of people, especially the indigenous population, suffer severely from poverty. Poverty reduction, health care and educational reform are critical and cannot be achieved through externally imposed neoliberal solutions.

It is clear that regional integration is in the general interest of the population, but only if special measures are taken to protect the interests of all vulnerable groups of the population. The debt problem and the need to protect the environment are other issues that must not be overlooked or forgotten.

This report shows the course that politics should take. The European Union can and should play its full role in this region.

Lenz (PPE). - Mr President, much of what has been said about Mr Bertens’s report naturally also applies to Mr Carnero González’s good report. I would therefore like to limit myself to a few remarks on the specific problem in this region. Even more than South America, Central America has been the subject of heated debates here in this Parliament for years between the European parties and their Central American partners about the right path. Today there is democracy and peace in most countries. A democratically elected president has just taken on the second freely elected presidency in Nicaragua, and the EU has signed an agreement with Nicaragua that aims to support the goal of improving the educational system and the judiciary.

The dialogue launched between Latin America and the EU as part of the San José dialogue and its results since 1984 were arguably some of the few really successful examples of a common foreign policy. The framework agreement between the partner countries of the General Treaty on Central American Integration of 1993 is an important cornerstone of the cooperation. It must be updated and modernized. What we are missing, however, is an institutionalized parliamentary dialogue, which we would like to see as an EP at this level as well. But where there is light, at least where it has become lighter, there are also shadows: high debt, poor economic conditions, social contrasts, integration of returning refugees, unemployment, integration that does not always work and the retraining of the former military on the one hand, but also the Resistance fighters, on the other hand, threaten the not yet stable democracies. There are still human rights violations. As the European Parliament, we have dealt with these questions repeatedly, for example with the street children in Guatemala. But Guatemala in particular has now initiated a peace process, for which we would like to once again congratulate the negotiating partners here. We welcome and support this process. The greatest task, however, is associated with its implementation. After years of military action, terrorism, countless deaths and mistrust, a common path must be followed that will not be easy. Here the European Union is called upon to become, with its joint committee, an appropriate instrument of concertation. We must not let up in our cooperation with the government and parties, trade unions and social organizations. We need to develop initiatives to promote the rule of law and independent justice, human rights and their application by the police and the military.

The development of a bourgeois society that is really ready to take on political tasks and responsibility, to solve economic and social tasks, is absolutely necessary. Here we have to contribute with programs for communal development, decentralization, land reform and the equal participation of women, who are not only allowed to deal with crises. That really has to be our program, because if we do not bring this civil society to account, if we, the EU, do not help, then the fine words here in Parliament will not help us either. That is why we ask the Commission to give it real support.

Van Bladel (UPE). - (NL) Mr President, fortunately every now and then you find something in the world that is good, and that is the case with Central America. Ten years ago I reported on the fighting that took place in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and now there is peace even in Guatemala.

Now that there is peace, the rule of law and democracy must also be consolidated. The dialogue between the European Union and Central America has already borne fruit. Even more could be achieved if the Commission followed up on Mr Carnero's proposal in his excellent report and, in particular, drafted a detailed multiannual program for Central America. It seems to me that we should then above all ensure that as many social forces as possible are involved in its implementation, for example the trade unions. Because most of the governments in this region do not see the importance of it at all. Last year, for example, a trade union federation of civil servants was completely banned in Guatemala. It would be particularly regrettable, and I can only agree with what the Commissioner said in his last contribution to the Bertens report, if the same thing happened in Central America as in Latin America, that is, yes, growth, but not fair distribution. Then people continue to feel bad. Commissioner Marin hit the nail on the head: we must not do this. So I hope that the Commission will pay close attention, that this social dialogue will get going, that the trade unions will take part, but also the employers. You may find it strange, but there is no employer organization in Latin America at all either. So a social dialogue of the kind we know in Europe between employers and employees would be the best solution.

I am pleased to see not only the Commissioner, the expert on Latin America, but also the new Vice-President of Parliament, from my group. I hope that this report by Mr Carnero will be treated well by the Commission.

IN THE CHAIR: GUIDO PODESTA
Vice President

Manzella (PSE). - (IT) Mr President, the San José process succeeded in creating a model of integrated policy for the European Union: degrading it and reducing it to a simple experiment in development cooperation would therefore be for us as well as for the countries of the European Union Isthmus a mistake. If Latin America today occupies a central position within the great guidelines of world progress, then these countries are at the center of the center; they are the most sensitive and weakest link, but also the most decisive for our policy, which must therefore come into play in this case: a precisely defined CFSP is required, and not just cooperation. If we go in that direction, Commissioner, this Parliament will give its unreserved approval.

This means that we must develop ideas and a plan for Central America, the economic and institutional objectives of which are compatible and must be pursued equally. This plan must be based on three pillars: first, the promotion of regionalization as the only institutional form that enables the positive effects of globalization to be exploited and the negative ones to be mitigated; secondly, the promotion of regionalism based on the rules of parliament, which is the most modern system for achieving a policy of respect for human and political rights in these countries and for including social dialogue, and in this context it is really unfortunate that there is no mention of PARLACEN in the Florence document; and thirdly, earmarked aid, preferably for municipalities and local authorities, under intelligent and consistent scrutiny by the Commission and Parliament, within the limits of their powers, to prevent manipulation of the recipients from creating new tensions in countries such as Guatemala , have just been through a civil war.

Marín, Vice-President of the Commission. - (ES) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Carnero González, for his report. The Commission agrees with him not only on the general remarks but also on the specific points he has raised, because Mr Carnero's report makes one thing above all clear - and here I come back to what I said earlier about Latin America - : The San José dialogue must be renewed and expanded because, as one parliamentarian put it, despite its modesty, it is perhaps one of the most well-founded and convincing foreign policy actions of the European Union. If you look at where the San José Dialogue was when the Esquipulas group set out, and what has happened in Central America since, and if you look at the current political situation, you can say that a A giant step has been taken towards the political stabilization of the Central American Isthmus. Of course, the end of the Cold War did its part, and with the conclusion of peace in Guatemala, the last civil war in the countries of the Isthmus was basically ended.

How did that happen? The San José Dialogue was launched ten years ago and continued in the middle of the Cold War; its fundamental goals were to end civil wars, build democratic systems and design a model for economic development.

Central America has changed a lot in the last five years.Politically, there have been some very difficult and complicated situations that have been resolved democratically; the civil wars have ended. Or take the example of Guatemala: next week, on the 20th and 21st, the donor advisory committee will meet in Brussels under the auspices of the European Commission, which shows that we are not involved in delicate processes such as the peace process the main role, but still play an increasingly important role. That is why you have to give the whole thing a new dimension. And so there is also the Florence Agreement with a new vision of our relations with Central America.

Mr Carnero, what is really lacking in Central America is the concept of the state. Consequently, to put it very briefly, our main goal will be to work in a decentralized manner with all socially relevant groups. I could imagine that NGOs, who are best active locally, will gradually be involved. The small projects, of which we are already working on almost 400 per year in Brussels, cost us a lot of money and work and are difficult to control from Brussels. We have ideas, we have enough money, but there are not enough officials. So I want to hand over many of these small projects to the local NGOs; We are concentrating on the rule of law, essentially on the parliaments - based on the pilot project in Paraguay, we will be working on reforming various parliaments - on reforming the state administration, the judiciary, the tax authorities and the financial administration. In essence, this is what the main component of cooperation will look like over the next five years, and we hope that the idea will prevail that a democratic state must above all else be a state that gives credibility to all peace processes and politics in the region.

The response we received from across the Atlantic was truly exceptional, and this is evidenced by the fact that we did not have to press the Guatemalan authorities for long to join us with the donor advisory committee on the new parameters of San José to be held in Brussels. This gives the European Union yet another opportunity to take the lead on this matter, but since the resources are relatively modest and we have the staff, we can do so.

The big problem in Central America, which is even more acute here than in the rest of Latin America, is again exclusion and poverty. On this subject, I have come to believe that either strong, democratic and efficient states will emerge on the Latin American continent, or that development aid will be difficult to achieve.

The president. - The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12 noon.