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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/7

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

(28 June 2002)

Respect of human rights, including non-discrimination, are among those essential political criteria that
candidate countries must fulfil in order to become members of the Union. The treatment of non-
denominational citizens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) representing non-denominational life
stances has to match with those principles.

The Commission continues to monitor closely and assess developments in this area, in particular in the
context of preparation of the 2002 Regular Reports. The assessment will draw upon all available sources
of information, including any relevant NGO reports.

(2003/C 137 E/007) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1428/02

by Isidoro Sánchez García (ELDR) to the Council

(23 May 2002)

Subject: Crisis in Venezuela

Venezuela, a Latin-American Republic with a great democratic tradition, which is home to hundreds of
thousands of Community citizens, enjoys extremely cordial relations with the European Union and its
Member States, for a variety of reasons.

As the Council is aware, on 11 April 2002, Venezuela experienced an extraordinary socio-political crisis,
involving bloodshed, which turned the lives of Venezuela’s citizens upside down to the point where there
was an ephemeral change of President of the Republic due to a singular combination of socio-political
circumstances which many of us were surprised by and are concerned about.

In the context of Article 32 of the TEU, which deals with relations between the European Parliament and
Council in foreign policy and security matters, what is the Council’s evaluation of this crisis, and what
measures does it intend to adopt, if appropriate, in the near future with regard to the situation which has
arisen in Venezuela?


(6 February 2003)

1. The Council would draw the Honourable Member’s attention to its earlier reply to question
P-1263/02 put by Mihail Papayannakis on the same topic.

The Council has followed closely the evolution of the political and social events that led to the violence on
11 April and the breach in constitutionality in Venezuela.

2. On Friday 12 April, Spain, as Presidency of the Council of the European Union, issued a declaration
on the situation in Venezuela strongly condemning the loss of human lives and conveying its condolences
to the relatives of the victims. The Presidency also expressed its full support and solidarity to the people of
Venezuela and appealed for an end to all violent actions. Finally it called for the transitional government to
respect democratic values and institutions with a view to overcoming the crisis in a framework of national
concord and in full respect for basic rights and freedoms.

3. Since then, the EU has taken the opportunities offered in the framework of its relations with
Venezuela to convey its satisfaction with the re-establishment of democratic institutions and supports
President Chavez’s moves towards reconciliation and dialogue so that the Venezuelan people may fully
develop its democracy.

4. The Council has repeatedly underlined the importance it attaches to the development of the rule of
law and for the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
C 137 E/8 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

5. The Council hopes that all players on the Venezuelan political and social scene, as well as the media,
will act in a responsible manner in order to maintain stability and look to resolve any differences through
peaceful and constructive dialogue.

6. Ministers discussed the events in Venezuela over lunch during the Council meeting on 15 April
2002. They stressed the importance of preserving democratic principles in particular under the Charter of
the Organisation of American States. The Council would also refer the Honourable Member to the
declaration made by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on 9 October 2001.

(2003/C 137 E/008) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1457/02

by Hanja Maij-Weggen (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(23 May 2002)

Subject: Arrest of Tibetan boy

Is the Commission aware that the twelve-year-old Tibetan boy Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has been
imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for political reasons?

Is the Commission prepared to ask the Chinese authorities for clarification of their motives for imprisoning
this Tibetan boy?

What steps can the Commission take to protect children from human rights violations of this kind in

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(25 June 2002)

The EU is aware that the Chinese authorities in Tibet identified Gyaltsen Norbu as Panchen Lama at
Tashilhunpo monastery, Shigatse, on 8 December 1996, after rejecting the Dalai Lama’s choice, Gedhun
Choekyi Nyima, who has been living since then with his family in an unknown location.

The EU continues to stress that China should respect international standards and instruments with regard
to minority rights and is very concerned about the human rights situation in Tibet. The EU raises the issue
regularly in our interactions with the Chinese authorities, including at the highest level and during regular
meetings of the EU-China human rights dialogue. We emphasise the need for China to respect cultural and
linguistic rights, religious freedoms and the protection of minorities in Tibet. We also ask for direct
dialogue between the Beijing authorities and the Dalai Lama, and access for an independent delegation to
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

The EU is committed to respecting childrens’ rights and supports the approach of the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that children are fully ‘citizens’ and fully ‘human persons’, and that
they are able to understand their own needs and interests. For this reason, they must be allowed to express
their thoughts and have their opinions taken into account.

In conjunction with local NGOs, the Commission has, at present, two projects in operation concerning
childrens’ health and welfare in several communities throughout China.

The Commission has also established, as a new initiative, a Human Rights Small Projects Facility
administered by the EC Delegation in Beijing. In this context, the EC Delegation is currently assessing
several co-operation projects aimed at improving child welfare and protecting children’s rights in China.