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EU Talks Of New Mid-east “Partnerships”

  • February 23rd, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

eurobook-council.jpgThe European Union has moved towards a working relationship with new governments that might emerge in the Middle East, its 27 Foreign Ministers this week speaking of a “new partnership”.

The Ministers, at Brussels (21.2.11), supported initiatives that would involve an extension of financial assistance where democratic changes were in the offing.

See also EUAustralia Online, “Mid-east gets the lamps burning late in Europe”, 22.2.11.

They have also put a clear emphasis on North Africa, where most of the pressure on despotic governments from crowds taking over the streets has been felt.

These are the Magreb countries of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, together with Egypt – and the Europeans are defining the area in neighbourhood terms of their own, as the “Southern Mediterranean”.

Excepting Yemen, rebellions in other Arab states, and Iran, look to be more under control.

muammar-gaddafi-007.jpgAgain, this week, with the governments already overturned in Tunisia and Egypt, attention is fixed on the bloodshed in Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi (pictured, on TV), after ruling there for 42 of his 70 years, betrayed no notion of accepting peaceful change, commandeering the air waves for over an hour (22.2.11) to give off angry threats against  opponents.

They were “mice”, “cockroaches” and traitors, he said; claimed the uprising was caused by foreigners, and threatened summary execution of any leaders.

The EU Foreign Ministers were able to speak in more measured terms, though condemning the attacks on citizens in Libya, where the death toll has climbed into the hundreds.

The following is from the communiqué out of their meeting, convened as a European Council:

“The Council … expressed its support for the peoples of the South Mediterranean and their legitimate hopes and aspirations for democratic change, social justice and economic development.

“It expressed the EU’s readiness for a new partnership with the countries of the region to support the process towards democracy, rule of law, socio-economic development and strengthened regional stability, on the basis of shared principles, cooperation and local ownership.

“The Council condemned all acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators.

“The voices calling for the full respect of political, social and economic rights should be listened to carefully.

“In particular, the Council condemned the ongoing repression against demonstrators in Libya and deplored the violence and the death of civilians. It called … the legitimate aspirations and demands of people for reform to be addressed through an open, inclusive, meaningful and national Libyan-led dialogue …

“The Council welcomed the decision of Bahrain’s authorities to open a national dialogue.

“It urged the Yemeni authorities to reach out to the people through a comprehensive national dialogue …”

The EU Foreign Ministers also pledged support for democratic change under the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

Reference

Council of the European Union, 3069th meeting, Foreign Affairs, Brussels, 21.2.11. Main results, provisional version, 6763/11, Presse 32, PR CO 9

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