Greece ve­toes EU state­ment to UN crit­i­cis­ing Chi­nese regime

The Guardian - - INTERNATIONAL - He­lena Smith Athens

Greece has ve­toed EU con­dem­na­tion of China’s hu­man rights record at the UN, in­fu­ri­at­ing diplo­mats and hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions, who called it a blow to the EU’s record as a de­fender of hu­man rights.

It emerged yes­ter­day that Athens had re­fused to en­dorse an EU state­ment crit­i­cis­ing the crack­down on ac­tivists and dis­si­dents un­der Xi Jin­ping, the com­mu­nist pres­i­dent. The state­ment was due to be sub­mit­ted to the UN’s Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva last Thurs­day.

“We acted from a po­si­tion of prin­ci­ple,” said an of­fi­cial at the Greek for­eign min­istry. “There is an up­com­ing di­a­logue be­tween the EU and China on hu­man rights and we think that could be a more ef­fi­cient and con­struc­tive way of de­liv­er­ing bet­ter re­sults.”

Hu­man rights groups in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said it was the first time the EU had failed to make such a state­ment at the UN’s top rights body. Diplo­mats were es­pe­cially piqued at the tim­ing. On Thurs­day euro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters agreed to un­lock €8.5bn (£7.4bn) in bailout loans, al­low­ing Athens to avert de­fault when it faces €7.4bn in debt re­pay­ments next month. “It was dis­hon­ourable, to say the least,” one diplo­mat told Reuters in Brus­sels. The move not only

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