Development Summit Must Come To Edinburgh

06 September 2005
"Taking this summit away from Edinburgh, for Strasbourg of all places, is ridiculous, the decision must be reversed"

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has fought Edinburgh's corner in a debate in the European Parliament, calling on the Parliament President to reverse a decision robbing Scotland of a major international conference on development in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Countries.

The 10th Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries meeting with the European Parliament delegation had been widely expected to bring thousands of people from across the world to Edinburgh in November. The European Parliament bureau, on the vote of the President decided to hold the meeting in Strasbourg instead.

This decision has today been challenged by Mr Smith, who believes that a head of steam is building up behind the campaign to reverse the decision and hold the conference in Edinburgh after all.

Speaking in the debate, Mr Smith said:

" Scotland hosted the G8 summit a few short months ago, and the UK even holds the Presidency of the EU and Scotland wants this meeting to come to Edinburgh. The Edinburgh bid was better, the Edinburgh bid was cheaper, and the Scottish government is reported to be committing ÂŁ100,000 to help make this event take place.

We are used to welcoming hundreds of thousands of people with warm Scottish hospitality every day of the week, and are keen to see this meeting come to us. We are willing to do our part to bring this conference to Scotland, I hope that you will do your part to reconsider this decision."

Speaking after the debate, Mr Smith said:

"I was staggered when the bureau decided, against the wishes of the delegation itself, to go to Strasbourg rather than Edinburgh. Strasbourg is an awful place to get to, and with Edinburgh having been at the centre of world events with the Make Poverty History march, and the G8 summit just up the road at Gleneagles Edinburgh is the logical place to hold it.

"All the groups within the Parliament are backing the bid, and it is now over to the bureau to think again and let common sense prevail. We should find out on Wednesday whether the conference will come to Edinburgh in November but I think that a momentum is building. I'm calling on all of Scotland's 7 MEPs to sign with me a joint letter urging a reversal of this flawed decision."