EU to impose tough sanctions against Libya soon

PTI Berlin | Updated on February 26, 2011 Published on February 26, 2011

The 27-nation European Union has reached consensus on imposing tough sanctions against Libya and is expected to strike an agreement in this regard next week in the wake of violent crackdown by the Muammar Gaddafi regime on protesters demanding an end to his 41-year rule.

A formal agreement on imposing a set of tough sanctions will be hammered out next week, the German Foreign Ministry officials here and EU diplomats in Brussels have said.

Until now, an agreement on EU sanctions against Libya had been blocked by south European member-nations, which feared an exodus of refugees from North Africa if Libya opened its borders in retaliation.

“I am optimistic that the EU will take restrictive measures” against Libya, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Ms Catherine Ashton, said in Brussels.

The proposed sanctions may include freezing of all assets of Mr Gaddafi and his associates, an embargo on arms exports to that country, a ban on travel to Europe by Mr Gaddafi and his family and an export ban on goods which could be used for repression against the opponents of his regime.

The German Foreign Minister, Mr Guido Westerwelle, is reported to have received assurance from his Italian counterpart, Mr Franco Frattini, that his country will not block EU sanctions against the North African nation.

Mr Frattini is no longer insisting that other EU member-nations also should take illegal immigrants from North Africa, media reports said.

Mr Westerwelle told journalists after a meeting with Mr Frattini in Berlin that they agreed that the European sanctions “must be imposed on those responsible for the violence in Libya’’.

A military intervention by the EU to evacuate hundreds of its nationals trying to flee the turmoil in Libya is very unlikely.

But Mr Westerwelle did not rule out the possibility of the EU participating in enforcing a “no-fly zone” over the Libyan air space to prevent the Gaddafi regime’s planes bombarding anti-government protesters if the United Nations Security council authorises that.

The EU would support setting up of a “no-fly zone” under Article VII of the UN Charter, he said.

But Ms Ashton expressed doubts about the “no-fly zone” proposal and said an effective control of the entire Libyan airspace is very difficult to organise.

The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) is prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to Libya, but will not get involved militarily, its secretary-general Mr Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of the NATO council in Brussels on Friday.

However, the alliance will be standing by to respond to emergencies. The situation in Libya affects the security of thousands of people, also from the NATO countries, he said.

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Published on February 26, 2011
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