by WorldTribune Staff, June 18, 2017
A European Union statement at the UN criticizing China for its human rights record was blocked by Greece.
Greece called the statement “unconstructive criticism of China” and said it would be better for the EU to hold separate talks with China outside the UN, Reuters reported on June 18.
China’s COSCO Shipping, owner of the world’s fourth-largest container fleet, took a 51 percent stake in Greece’s largest port last year.
The EU was due to make its statement last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, but failed to win the necessary agreement from all 28 EU states, marking the first time the EU had failed to make its statement at the UN’s top rights body, according to rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
An EU official confirmed the statement had been blocked.
One EU diplomat expressed frustration that Greece’s decision to block the statement came at the same time the International Monetary Fund and EU governments agreed to release funds under Greece’s emergency financial bailout last week in Luxembourg.
“It was dishonorable, to say the least,” the diplomat said.
Greece’s move “is the latest blow to the EU’s credentials as a defender of human rights,” three diplomats said, and raises questions about the economically powerful EU’s “soft power” that relies on inspiring countries to follow its example by outlawing the death penalty and upholding press freedoms, the Reuters report said.