Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 16:52 UK

MEPs criticise lack of action on Bahrain, Syria and Yemen

The EU's response to the violence in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen was criticised by MEPs during a debate on 6 April 2011.

The three countries have suffered weeks of political unrest, following on from the violence in north Africa.

Hungarian Foreign Minister, Zsolt Nemeth, representing the EU's High Representative Baroness Ashton, told the parliament that the violence was "unacceptable".

However British Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim said to him "you have no plan, you have nothing to contribute".

Meanwhile Finnish Liberal Anneli Jäätteenmäki - a former prime minister - called on an immediate ban on arms exports to the three countries.

She also urged the Commission and Council to be more explicit about calling for regime change, if the current governments were a block to democracy.

Weeks of protest

In Yemen, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets, demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for over 30 years.

He has agreed to resign by January 2012, but the opposition is calling for his immediate departure.

Meanwhile in Bahrain, several people have been killed in clashes with security forces, which led to the King releasing a number of political prisoners.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa ibn Salman al-Khalifa is the longest-serving unelected prime minister in the world, having been in power since the early 1970s.

The ruling family are Sunni Muslims, in a country with a significant Shia majority.

Finally in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to defeat people behind anti-government demonstrations.

More than 60 people have been killed in unrest in the southern city of Deraa during the last two weeks.

President Assad has been in power since 2000, when he succeeded his father Hafez.

MEPs voted on a resolution condemning the violence in the three countries during the daily voting session on 7 April 2011.

Read Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work here.

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