Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat – European Union [EU] member states have agreed to abide by the recent UN resolution on Libya, but with each EU member-state being granted the freedom to decide the extent – if any – of its contribution to the joint-military action against Libya. During the EU Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels yesterday, the EU member-states also agreed to increase the financial and economic sanctions against the Gaddafi regime, including imposing sanctions against Libya’s oil industry, which represents Tripoli’s main source of income. European foreign ministers also agreed to send a fact-finding mission to the Libyan – Egyptian border to assess the situation there, and explore ways of increasing EU humanitarian aid.
Following this meeting, the EU issued a statement saying that “The Council expresses its concern at the present situation in Libya and condemns the gross and systematic violation of human rights, violence and brutal repression perpetrated by the regime against the Libyan people. It confirms that the EU’s main aim is the protection of the civilian population and support for the possibility for the Libyan people to realize their aspirations for a democratic society. To this end Colonel Gaddafi has to relinquish power immediately.”
The statement added “The Council expresses its satisfaction after the adoption of UN
Security Council resolution 1973 and underlines its determination to contribute to its implementation. It also welcomes the Paris Summit as a decisive contribution to its implementation. While contributing in a differentiated way, the EU and its Member States are determined to act collectively and resolutely, with all international partners, particularly the Arab League and other regional stakeholders, to give full effect to these decisions.”
Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to a number of EU Foreign Ministers, who confirmed their commitment to UN Security Resolution 1973, as well as their full support for the UN resolution’s objectives of putting an end to the violence being carried out by the Gaddafi regime against the Libyan citizens. This was something agreed upon during the EU Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels yesterday, with the EU renewing calls for Colonel Gaddafi to step down from power.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said that “it is up to Colonel Gaddafi and his supporters to understand the UN message.” He added “the EU and the international community hopes that the Gaddafi regime accommodates the objectives of UN Security Council resolution 1973, namely to ensure the protection of Libyan civilians. We hope that Colonel Gaddafi learns his lesson from this and steps down from power and leaves the country, so that we all avoid additional loss of innocent lives.”
The EU member-states also agreed to intensify financial and economic sanctions, along with giving each EU member-state the freedom to take appropriate decision with regards to its contribution – if any – to the military action against Libya.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton, said that “our latest meeting focused on providing further humanitarian aid.” She added “there is consultation between NATO and the EU, and the member-states are free to determine for themselves the manner of their cooperation and contribution to the military action [in Libya], and there is [also] an agreement to increase economic sanctions against Libya.”
For his part, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said “we support the expansion of sanctions to include financial, economic, and commercial transactions in general, as well as monitoring Gaddafi’s financial accounts to ensure that he does not use this to purchase arms.” As for military action, Westerwelle said “the Arab League’s position, which criticized this military action, confirmed that our position [not to take part in the military action] was correct. We said that we would not take part in the military operation due to its risks, however in spite of this we respect all those who are participating in the military operations and we support their position.”
The EU also decided to send an official fact-finding mission led by the Hungarian Foreign Minister to the Libyan – Egyptian border, to investigate the situation there. Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi issued a statement informing the press that he will be visiting Cairo on Tuesday, before traveling to the Egyptian – Libyan border to observe the situation on the ground.