Graham WATSON (Lib Dem, UK), leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, calls on French President Jacques Chirac to raise the case of Ayman Nour during his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo today. In the European Parliament, Liberals and Democrats have been at the forefront of the international campaign calling for the liberation of the imprisoned leader of Egypt's democratic opposition party who stood last year as a candidate for Egypt's presidential elections.
"Jacques Chirac will probably discuss the Iranian nuclear stand-off as well as the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He must also speak up to promote democracy in the Middle East. Barely a month ago, the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the liberation of Ayman Nour. Under an ALDE initiative, a letter jointly signed by MEPs and Members of the US House of Representatives was also sent to the Egyptian authorities. If there is no positive evolution on the question of his release, it is also because EU Heads of State do not speak up with one voice to follow up on human rights violations", declared Graham Watson.
Graham Watson also raised concern over the recent clashes which erupted in Egypt between Muslims and Copts that led to bloodshed as well as attacks on several Coptic churches in Alexandria. "Human rights, religious freedom and democracy are all part of the "political dialogue and reform" Chapter of the Action Plan that the EU and Egypt are currently negotiating in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy. Liberals and Democrats urge for progress to be made. The liberation of Ayman Nour would be a step in the right direction towards solid partnership", he concluded.