April 08, 2014



MONDAY 28 APRIL - Ambassador of El Salvador

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March 25, 2014

Ambassador of Poland, 24.03.2014

Polish Ambassador

The Ambassador of Poland, HE Witold Sobkow, came to address us last night to give a wide-ranging talk about Poland's foreign policy and the Eastern Partnership.

Transcript to follow.

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March 24, 2014

Obituary Sir Colin William Carstairs Turner, CBE, DFC

CFCC Vice President, Sir Colin Turner, very sadly died last week.

Sir Colin Turner

Sir Colin William Carstairs Turner, CBE, DFC (born 4 January 1922; died 21 March 2014) passed away peacefully at home in West Runton, Norfolk.

He leaves his widow Evelyn (Lady Turner), daughter Susan, sons Anthony, Nigel, Christopher, 14 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

The son of the late Colin C.W. Turner, he was educated at Highgate School. A businessman and Conservative Party politician.

Chairman and President of The Colin Turner Group (International Media Representatives - founded 1927)

Served in World War II with the Royal Air Force, 223 Squadron; Desert Air Force, N. Africa, 1942-44; commissioned, 1943; invalided out as Flying Officer, 1945 after air crash.

Conservative Member of Parliament for Woolwich West from 1959 until 1964.

Enfield Borough Council, Member 1956-58;

Member of National Executive of Conservative Party, 1946-53, 1968-73, 1976-82;

Enfield North Conservative Association, Chairman 1979-84, President 1984-93;

North Norfolk Conservative Association, President 1996-99;

Conservative European Constituency Council, London North, Chairman 1984-89;

Conservative Commonwealth and Overseas Council, Dep Chairman 1975, Chairman 1976-82;

Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council, Vice President 1985-2014.

Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA): 223 Squadron Association, Chairman 1975-93;

RAFA Enfield Branch, Chairman 1979-93;

Sheringham and District Branch, Chairman 1994-99, President 2000-09;

Media: Overseas Press and Media Association, President 1965-67, Hon Secretary. 1967, Hon. Treasurer 1974-82, Life President 1982; Overseas Media Guide, Editor 1968, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74;

Commonwealth Press Union, Chairman PR Committee 1970-87;

Old Cholmeleian Society (Highgate School former pupils association) President 1985-86,

Editor of The Cholmeleian, 1982-95.

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March 18, 2014

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, 24.02.2014

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali
Sir Michael Craig-Cooper CBE TD DL, Lord Howe of Aberavon CH QC, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Sir Ronald Halstead CBE

Freedoms We Risk Losing. Threats to Freedom in the World Today.

Official website: OXTRAD

Let us begin with the Cylinder of Cyrus in the British Museum. It is the Proclamation of Freedom by Cyrus the Great (Kourosh-i-Kabir as he is called by the Iranian people today) when the Persian Empire reached its zenith. The emperor is mentioned in the Bible as one of God's anointed who was to bring liberation to the people of Israel, who were at that time in bondage.

The Cylinder of Cyrus was loaned to the National Museum in Tehran for the last year or so (so that it was back home, if you like). At the time, I was engaged in a kind of dialogue with the Iranian authorities and I thought that I would begin my part of the dialogue by saying something about the Cylinder. I said how wonderful it was, this tradition of freedom and tolerance in Iran that goes back to Cyrus the Great. After I had finished, the man who was chairing the meeting on the other side looked at me and said, "Bishop, we are not interested in the past. We are only interested in the future." Well, can it be right for a nation to forget its heritage? Britain is busily forgetting its heritage and needs to be reminded, but what about Iran and Cyrus?

As I go around the world, in even the most unpromising places, I find a heritage of freedom and toleration. A couple of centuries after Cyrus, we have the Indian king Ashoka, who, after a very bloody reign, became a Buddhist and then proclaimed freedom for people in his empire. He erected a number of pillars proclaiming peace and freedom which we can still see. Today many people who are Buddhists profess peace and reconciliation for themselves, but there are many countries where Buddhism is the official religion and where there is a great deal of conflict — Sri Lanka, for example, or Burma, where both Christians and Muslims find themselves oppressed communities. If people are going to learn from Cyrus, why not from Ashoka?

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January 14, 2014

Charles Tannock MEP, 19.12.2013

Charles Tannock MEP speech

”The role of MEPs in EU Foreign policy”

Following a wide-ranging and fascinating speech, these are a few of the key policies favoured by Charles:

- More efficient and cost-effective interpretation in the European Parliament

The EU has 28 Member States and 24 official languages. The UN, with 193 Member States, operates with just six, and the 47-Member-State Council of Europe has just two official languages. Working towards a more efficient and cost effective interpretation process is of course welcome, but the recommendations do not offer the radical solution which would be the logical step for an expanding supranational institution such as the EU. Limiting the number of working languages to three – namely French, German and English, and embracing this solution would not be as radical as many in this House would portray it as being. In the majority of cases this is already de facto for many of my colleagues, who make speeches happily in one of those languages in the plenary. Adopting this officially would only serve to bring more transparency and dynamism to the workings of Parliament and send a signal to EU citizens that the EU is serious in its aim to make efficient and budgetary savings. This is certainly something which would be welcome in the UK and by my own London constituents. (Delivered in Plenary on 10 September 2013)

- Common foreign and security policy

"I am a staunch defender of national sovereignty and the right of Member States to hold the reins over their own foreign policy and defence, acting in their own national interests. But this does not mean that the United Kingdom – my country – cannot support a common foreign security policy of the EU where it adds clear value.

The European Union is a powerful bloc of liberal democracies. Although our domestic politics may differ substantially, in our dealings with the outside world our similarities are usually more evident and outweigh our differences. Lady Ashton, your recent achievement in bringing together the Kosovo and Serbian leaders in their landmark agreement demonstrates the potential for a CFSP at its best, particularly given the fact that the EULEX mission in Kosovo was very helpful in re-establishing the rule of law. The EU training missions in Uganda and Mali are also particular successes, as is the EU-NAVFOR Atalanta mission, which has done so much in the Indian Ocean to reduce piracy off the coast of Somalia.

As rapporteur both for the Horn of Africa and for the human rights report on the Sahel, which went through this week in the House, I hear first hand from regional actors how valued the EU contribution is and how effective we can be when we coordinate our soft and hard power strategies. This applies to sticks as well as carrots, as evidenced by the EU-led sanctions now forcing President Rouhani of Iran to the negotiating table, and to the blacklisting of Hezbollah, which sends the right message about terrorism internationally.

Nevertheless, one real problem that my group has with the Brok CFSP report is its continued insistence on a permanent EU seat at the UN Security Council, which the United Kingdom cannot accept. In a sense, this is the key issue. Foreign, security and defence policy can be coordinated, where appropriate, but ultimately, control must be intergovernmental. Where collective decisions are being taken, they must be taken unanimously. We can support them in that case, but we cannot allow a situation to develop whereby small – or, for that matter, large – countries, such as my own, are forced to submit to policies and interests that they do not share with the others.

We have more reservations as a group over the CSDP, given that the EU has only two major military powers – France and the UK. But, where CSDP missions can coexist effectively with NATO without duplication, we are also happy to endorse a collective and constructive approach." (Delivered in Plenary - 23 October 2013)

- Implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy

"As a Euro-realist, of course I accept the reality of the CSDP and the need to engage with it, although many in my own national political party are deeply hostile to the very concept. In my view, the CSDP must always remain subject to unanimity in the Council. I believe that constructive engagement is the way forward, partly because – as was pointed out in the debate – France insists on it as one of only two European major military powers and as a condition of rejoining NATO and its command and control structures.

One of my major areas of concern is the risk of duplication of effort in a climate of limited resources in the defence-spending sector, where concepts like NATO, smart defence and the CSDP’s pooling and sharing are being developed – rightly – to save on costs to national budgets. It is also important to avoid decoupling of the European Union’s defence efforts from those of the USA and Canada, with whom we are negotiating free trade agreements at the moment, and the TTIP hopefully in the future.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that EUNAVFOR ATALANTA has been a success story – and I drafted a report on this in the Horn of Africa for the Parliament last year – in fighting piracy. The EU training missions in Uganda and Mali have also been very helpful in the combat against Jihadi terrorism, but the jury regrettably is still out on certain civilian missions like EULEX in Kosovo. However, you can rest assured that we in the ECR will continue to take our security role with national parliaments and scrutiny over the CSDP very seriously in future." (Delivered in Plenary - 20 November 2013)

Guests at Charles Tannock MEP lunch

Countess Ilona Esterhazy, Charles Tannock MEP and Samir Das
Countess Ilona Esterhazy, Charles Tannock MEP, Mr Samir Das

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