Posted on 14 June, 2011 by Mathias Vermeulen
“The current situation in North Africa is one of great potential risk, but also great opportunity. The success of The European Union post Lisbon will be judged by the effectiveness with which we respond to these extra-ordinary opportunities, and this means successfully managing the risks involved. The way in which the autocratic regimes of the Middle East behaved in the past, including their repressive and unaccountable security services, non-respect of rule of law and human rights, in practice created conditions very much conducive to the spread of terrorism and contributed to radicalization. Responsive, representative government based on the rule of law and respecting human rights is the best way in which to address the grievances which can create the ground on which terrorism can grow. However, democracy on its own is not enough. Crime, terrorism and sectarian tensions all exist in long-established democracies. Violent extremist groups still exist in the region and beyond, which will continue to act against Europe and European interests. Already arrests have been made in Tunisia apparently linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
There is clearly a dilemma in deciding at what moment the institutions in these countries have gained sufficient legitimacy for it to be right for us to begin discussing these questions of hard security. This is a dilemma for our Arab partners in the reform process, as much as it is for us. (…) It is too early to go into detail, but over the next few months we need to plan a comprehensive model of support to reform of the security sector, and parallel reform of the judicial sector, together with the emerging democratic Governments of the Arab World. I welcome the inclusion of reform of the security and law enforcement sector under “Supporting Deep Democracy” in the joint communication of the Commission and High Representative “A new response to a changing neighbourhood”, and I look forward to the policy dialogue envisaged later this year on Justice and Home Affairs under the Stockholm Programme.”
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