Europe piles more pressure on Gaddafi

AFP , Monday 23 May 2011

Europe stepped up pressure against Gaddafi, widening sanctions on his regime and offering further support to Libyan insurgents

Mannequins are seen outside destroyed shops in Tripoli street in central Misrata (Photo: Reuters)

An EU assets freeze and travel ban against Kadhafi loyalists and firms suspected of propping up the regime was extended to a member of the Libyan leader's innner cirle and a Libyan airline, an EU diplomat said, without immediately disclosing further details.

The move came as the EU's 27 foreign ministers agreed a nine-point policy statement on Libya, adopted a day after the European Union officially opened an office in the rebel capital of Benghazi -- a boost for the insurgents lobbying world powers to formally recognise their National Transitional Council (NTC).

The EU "has decided to intensify its efforts to block access of resources and funding to the Kadhafi regime ... In particular, the EU will continue its efforts to prevent the regime from replenishing its military arsenal and recruiting mercenaries," said the statement.

It also "recognizes the need to explore legal possibilities of using frozen Libyan assets" to address humanitarian needs in Libya.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, just back from Benghazi for the Sunday opening of the EU office, said of Kadhafi as she joined the foreign ministers for talks: "He should go".

"Those who are wanting to see a future for Libya now need to get together and take it forward."

Giving the rebel council further blessing, the ministers' statement underlined "the important role" it plays "as a key political interlocutor representing the aspirations of the Libyan people" and offered it more assistance.

The words brought the EU a step closer to official recognition of the rebel body, a move long demanded by the European parliament. Up until now only Britain, France, Gambia, Italy and Qatar have recognised the NTC as their sole interlocutor in Libya.

On Sunday, the regime in Tripoli said Ashton's Benghazi visit came as a "surprise" and that opening an EU office in rebel-held territory could be considered tantamount to the "recognition of an illegitimate entity."

"This will have repercussions on Libya's rapport with several EU countries and institutions," Libya's foreign ministry said.

It said the "EU alongside other members of the international community should contribute to the search for a peaceful solution that protects Libyan lives and reinforces Libya's unity and territorial integrity."


Short link: