The time has come for Europe to play a stronger political role internationally, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and the S&D Group launched the #EUWakeUp campaign to call for more action. The EU must stand alongside its allies, regionally and internationally, to deal with the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region, resolve some of the long-standing conflicts and fight to uproot the debased ideology of Daesh (the so-called Islamic State).
The European Union must play a genuine political role in the Middle East peace process. A comprehensive, peaceful solution can and must be found to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. The S&D Group supports the two-state solution with the state of Israel and an independent, contiguous and viable state of Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Israel has the right to exist within secure borders and Palestinians have the right to self-determination and a state of their own. The building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and all acts of terrorism and violence against innocent citizens are utterly unacceptable. We call for serious engagement from both sides to resume credible peace talks, leading to tangible results.
Daesh is a serious and insidious global threat and we must work together to counter their propaganda and protect the thousands of people in danger. We need a comprehensive EU strategy for the region and immediate additional aid and assistance. The S&Ds support the international efforts to defeat Daesh, including military means if necessary and in accordance with international law, and intelligence sharing must be promoted. We need serious action to address the issue of foreign fighters and the political and socio-economic factors that have allowed terrorism to spread. Regional dialogue is essential - including with Iran and Saudi Arabia. Restarting US-Russian dialogue on Syria could de-escalate tensions and put the focus on areas of mutual agreement, such as ending the immense human suffering and finding a political solution that respects the rights of all ethnic and religious groups. Obviously, achieving a peaceful solution for Syria is also key to tackling the refugee crisis.
The political situation in Iran is an issue where the EU should speak out more strongly. We have consistently supported dialogue with Iran to defuse tensions and resolve disagreements, aiming for a step-by-step normalisation of relations. We fully support the Iranian people's desire to re-engage with the world and improve their economic situation. The nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities, and the return of international investors to Iran have reinforced the trend towards a greater openness to the world, including the EU.
The Maghreb region has been at the centre of historic changes since 2010, embarking on a long process of change and reform. The S&D Group takes a major interest in the success of their work on democratisation and modernisation. Tunisia is the most promising example of democratic consolidation after the Arab Spring and we want to encourage social dialogue, respect for human rights and active citizenship. Stronger co-operation is needed with North African countries to tackle the common challenges facing the region and Europe: migration, refugee crises, the prevention of radicalisation and terrorism, but also regional integration and international diplomatic efforts to build a government of national unity in Libya.