June 17, 2021

Nine MEPs ask Josep Borrell about the training sessions for Saudi soldiers revealed by elDiario.es

Up to nine MEPs from different countries of the European Union (EU) accuse the Spanish Government of failing to comply with the Common Position on arms exports after the disclosures published in elDiario.es about the business of Spanish companies with Saudi Arabia.

Spanish companies trained Saudi Arabian military personnel in the Army's premises in Zaragoza

Spanish companies trained Saudi Arabian military personnel in the Army’s premises in Zaragoza

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French, German and Finnish parliamentarians, including the Vice-President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, have joined an ERC question to Josep Borrell -Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy- on the actions that it intends to carry out in the event of non-compliance with the aforementioned Common Position, which prevents member states from exporting weapons -including technology and training- to countries immersed in armed conflicts.

The parliamentarians denounce that during 2018 and 2019, at least 20 members of the Saudi border guard traveled to Spain to receive military training in Army units in Zaragoza. The trainings, carried out by consulting firm Everis and a subsidiary, were also completed in Riyadh. Once trained, the soldiers were deployed to the Yemeni border, where they are currently participating in a war that has already claimed more than 230,000 victims since its outbreak in 2015.

MEPs remind Borrell that the European Parliament has passed various resolutions since 2016 in which it requires member states to comply with the Common Position -which is legally binding- and refrain from selling arms to Saudi Arabia due to the risk of ending up in the Yemen war.

They also recall that various member states have already suspended exports to the Riyadh regime while Spain continues to profit by selling arms to a dictatorship that, according to the UN and various international institutions, systematically violates Human Rights and international standards in its participation in the war of Yemen.

“The case of training is especially serious,” recalls Jordi Solé, ERC MEP and promoter of the question to Borrell. “The ‘most progressive government in history’ should be more courageous and put an end to this scandalous complicity with the military industry.”

Apart from Solé, other MEPs from the Green group signed the question, such as Diana Riba, Ernest Urtasun, Pierre Hersberger-Fofana (Germany), Katrin Langensiepen (Germany), Mounir Satouri (France), Salima Yenbou (France), Alviina Alametsä (Finland) and the aforementioned Vice-President Hautala, also Finnish.

Questions in the Congressional Defense Commission

The revelations of this newspaper have also motivated different political groups such as ERC, Bildu and the CUP register various questions for the Executive in the Congress of Deputies. Also in the Defense Commission last Wednesday, numerous parties inquired about the information published by elDiario.es

Even the PP, which has normally closed ranks with the Executive on arms exports, demanded that the Government take a decision “in the short term” on the suspension of exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “It is necessary to suspend the sale or to demonstrate reliably that the Spanish defense material is not being used in the conflict in Yemen,” the popular group claimed.

ERC also asked for explanations about the revelations of elDiario.es and proposed greater control of the ships of the Saudi shipping company Bahri that load weapons in Spanish ports. His non-legislative proposal, however, was rejected by six votes in favor and 28 against.

The PSOE came to assure in the same Commission that the Government has a “firm commitment to Human Rights” and “compliance with international and national standards.” According to the party’s spokesperson in the Defense Commission, Begoña Nasarre, “you cannot establish half measures, demagogies or prejudices” with arms exports. “With complex problems the solutions are complex,” he added.


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