“Our first concern has been to respond rapidly and effectively to the immediate challenges of the evolving situation in Libya and to address and pre-empt the risks of further bloodshed and hardship,” Cathrine Ashton, the Vice-President and High Representative of the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, told The Caravan.
The council meeting reiterated that the EU’s main goal 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 Muammar Gaddafi has to relinquish power immediately, the Council determined.
According to the Council negotiations, the EU is determined to contribute to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 “collectively and resolutely with all international partners, particularly the Arab League and other regional stakeholders,” Ashton said.
UN Resolution 1973 authorizes nations to “take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory...”
HermanVan Rompuy, President of the European Council in his speech during the European council meeting also called on Qaddafi’s forces to withdraw from all areas they have entered by force, return to their compounds and allow humanitarian aid.
In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided that there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region. The evacuation of EU citizens and other nationals remains a priority, as well as addressing humanitarian needs in Libya and at its borders.
According to Mario David, the chair of the committee of Delegation with Al-Mashreq countries, the Council confirms that the EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected and is ready “to help Libya to build a constitutional state and develop the rule of law.”
Gabriele Albertini, the Italian Member of the European Parliament and chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, said that the stated aims of the European Council meeting are to protect the human rights of the civilian population and to stop the use of violence by a bloody dictatorship that is deploying tanks, heavy artillery, even air raids against its own population.
“It is not a war because there was not a declaration of war against a state. In this case it’s just the international community that allowed means of violence for military operations in order not to conquer territory or depose a dictator like Saddam Hussein, but rather to protect a civil population threatened by its own leader, “Albertini added.
Charles Tannock, a member in the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the European parliament, announced that the EU has been firm in its condemnation of the acts perpetrated by the Qaddafi regime. However, it immediately processes negotiations of the EU-Libya framework agreement and all technical cooperation.
“We call upon Qaddafi to resign immediately and to allow the Libyan people to realize their aspiration for democracy; we have added nine new entities and 11 new individuals to the sanctions list and we will follow up in the coming days with another decision to implement the sanction,” Ashton declared.
Meanwhile, the EU High Representative and the Commission presented a proposal for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean. Such a partnership is also founded on deeper economic integration, broader market access and political cooperation.
Ashton has established a task force bringing together European External Action Service and Commission experts to adapt the EU’s existing instruments for helping the countries of Northern Africa including Libya. The aim is to provide a comprehensive package of measures tailored to the specific needs of each country. A technical fact-finding mission has visited Libya to assess the situation on the ground.
According to Ashton, 30 million Euros have been made available in humanitarian aid by the Commission to tackle the most immediate humanitarian needs in Libya and of displaced persons at the Tunisian and Egyptian borders. “With this aid through the partnership, we are providing medical and food aid, shelter and other necessities for Libya.”
“We must ensure that we continue to coordinate closely, together with the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and other international partners on how we can best contribute as soon as possible to the implementation of the decisions of the Security Council,” said Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European parliament.
“Everything we do has one objective – and that is to help the people of Libya; we adopted strong conclusions expressing our satisfaction with the adoption of Resolution 1973, and stressing our determination to contribute to its implementation,” Ashton added.