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L’évacuation des Européens de Bombay, le souk dénonce des eurodéputés

(B2) Président de la délégation de la commission du Parlement européen en Inde — qui s’est retrouvée coincée à Bombay lors des attentats — le Catalan Espagnol Ignasi Guardans (qui appartient au groupe libéral et démocrate ALDE) garde un souvenir très particulier de la façon dont l’évacuation des députés européens s’est déroulé.

À lire la lettre qu’il vient d’envoyer à H.G. Pöttering, le président du Parlement européen, le témoignage est assez effarant devant “le manque de coordination” (pour être gentil) entre les différents consulats et amlbassades pour prendre en charge les ressortissants de l’UE pris dans une situation de crise. Et les parlementaires devraient d’ailleurs poser une question orale sur ce sujet au Conseil (et à la présidence française).

Son récit vaut le coup d’être lu dans toutes ces circonvolutions. Car comme le dit le député (traduction) : « Je suis convaincu qu’il y a des leçons à prendre de ce que nous avons été témoins et de la façon dont cela doit être géré par les différents acteurs européens. […] Ce que nous avons vécu a été aussi vécu par d’autres Européens – poursuit-il. Et cela montre comment il reste beaucoup de travail pour faire que la citoyenneté européenne ne soit pas seulement un mot vide de sens, spécialement dans ces moments de crise dans un pays tiers où les citoyens européens pourraient attendre davantage de l’Union européenne – que nous aimons et supportons. »

(le texte original est en anglais)

La différence entre la théorie et la pratique, le Consul allemand dit : “je ne prends que les Allemands”.

“A member of the EC (European Commission) delegation in Delhi and myself we assumed the coordination with different European authorities to be evacuated from there and be taken together to a safer place. It was during those hours that the German Consul in Bombay showed us all how different the EU theory and discourse can be from reality, when he came to the place we where sheltering in, repeating that sentence which I will never forget: “I will only take Germans”. And so he did.”

Les Français offrent de prendre en charge la délégation

“Later on, immediately after sunrise, the Spanish Consul brought in two cars and brought those of us from the restaurant to a hotel lounge where they took care of us. At that time, the UK Consul and the one from Hungary had also offered their support in different ways. Some hours later, we accepted the invitation of the French consulate to gather all at the Consul’s Residence. It was there where the European Parliament Delegation was reunited, including those who had escaped from the Taj Mahal hotel, and those who had spent most of the night in the streets. We were later joined by the French Ambassador and by the Head of the EC Delegation in Delhi. On Thursday night we all moved to the residence of an Indian businessman, who for the following 15 hours provided us with rooms, food and even some basic clothes and hygienic stuff.”

… Mais la contradiction permanente règne! Et, sans passeport (perdu dans les évènements), pas de possibilité de s’échapper

“During all that time, a long line of contradictory information regarding our situation and how and when we would leave the country succeeded one to each other, depending on who would you talk to. Most of us had no passport, so there was no way to take any commercial flight. And at that time we still believed it would be a good thing for all of us to stay and return together. An official from the French Consulate informed us that they would provide us with a “laissez passer” and the exit visa delivered by the Indian authorities. On the basis of this promise of a common treatment of our papers, members of the delegation, including myself, kindly said no to the offers of our respective consulates to provide us with travel documents. “

Pour des raisons que je ne comprends pas, les laissez-passer promis n’arrivent pas

“Unfortunately, for reasons I still do not understand, that promise was never fulfilled. 24 hours later we had still not received any personal travel document. It is to be noted that even a staff member of the Delegation, who has double French-German citizenship, was at that moment denied the right to receive French papers, on the bureaucratic argument that she had used her German passport to enter the country. (Only many hours later, and some political pressure in Paris, the French consulate accepted to provide her with a French temporary passport).”

Le consul allemand atteint le summum de la bureaucratie : “venez déclarer la perte de votre passeport à la police”

“All confidence lost in the french offers, each one rushed to contact their own national representation, some of which had also made an offer to provide papers for non-nationals. And within hours we received very different documents: some got a full new valid passport, others a temporary one, others a laissez-passer with or without the Indian exit visa. Again, the German consul was the one who gave the worst answer, in form (extremely impolite) and in substance to the requests received, complaining that this German-French national should have denounced the loss of her passport in writing, and that she should personally go to the police if she wanted an exit visa.”

Réaction espagnole très rapide… mais avec un tout petit avion trop petit pour emmener tout le monde

“Some remarks regarding the evacuation itself. The Spanish Government made an offer from the very beginning to take us all on their plane. But they seriously miscalculated the number of Spanish citizens they had to take care of, and they sent a very small plane.”

L’avion français prend du retard, l’ordre succède au contre-ordre…

“They then asked us to accept an offer from the French Government, which we did, and we all went to bed on Thursday believing what we had been told: that a French plane had left Paris hours ago and would be taking us in the morning. On Friday morning we learnt that that again was not true, that a big plane from the Ministry of Defense was coming much later than expected, and that it would only leave Mumbai after confirming that no French citizen was left, and not earlier than Saturday 3 am. It was then when several MEPs, who had their passports, some of them strongly upset, organized their departure on their own and left in the following hours. The rest of us, now trying to clarify the situation of our documents, without which no commercial flight was possible, we stayed together until late night. As you know, but that time the Parliament had assumed the organization of the departure of everybody and booked several places on a flight to Brussels. An interpreter, a policy adviser and I we flew back in the French evacuation flight.”

Ma critique sur la présidence française: pas de transparence, pas d’information, ou des mauvaises informations…

“My criticism here is not on what the French presidency decided was
best for us and for their citizens. What was wrong in all this was that we were treated for many hours, in particular by the French Ambassador and the one official under him who was put in charge of us, more or less as a group of helpless and irresponsible children who needed evacuation. No transparency, no information, even misinformation in some cases, no sharing of decisions, no reasonable options made available to us. It all added stress to a group of serious and experienced persons already under strong emotional pressure without any personal belongings with them. This is also something that could be seriously improved.”

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde

Rédacteur en chef du site B2. Diplômé en droit européen de l'université Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne et auditeur 65e session IHEDN (Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale. Journaliste depuis 1989, fonde B2 - Bruxelles2 en 2008. Correspondant UE/OTAN à Bruxelles pour Sud-Ouest (auparavant Ouest-France et France-Soir).