Ashton confirms EU support for Middle East

Alaa Murad , Wednesday 23 Feb 2011

The EU confirms it is meetings with Egyptian opposition and abhors Libya's bloody affairs

Catherine Ashton
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (Photo: AP)

EU’s Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made a very short appearance in a press conference in a hotel in Cairo to support a changing Middle East.

Ashton told the press room that she had met with Egyptian Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq; Egypt’s finance minister; opposition groups (although no reference was made to the Muslim Brotherhood); some women’s groups and youth from Egypt’s revolution to offer congratulations and support.

EU’s main aim is, according to Ashton, to ask Egyptians how the organisation can offer its support.

She implied the main focus was to improve Egypt’s “economic situation,” and “building social cohesion.”

Regarding Libya “Let me just say: I deplore the loss of life.”

Indeed, roughly 12 Libyan ambassadors have resigned from their posts in protest of President Gaddafi’s blanket violence against fellow Libyans.

Ashton declared she is calling a meeting with EU ambassadors to discuss what actions can be taken with regards to the “volatile situation” in Libya and noted they were anticipating what the Security Council will do.

Ashton emphasised that the EU was “built on democracy, freedom and human rights,” and the importance of respecting human rights, saluting the youth in Tahrir for wanting a future built on these values.

Nevertheless, Ashton’s words contained no reference whatsoever to the manner of “assistance” the EU would offer, the form of aid the organisation might propose nor the issue of arms supplied to the region in light of bloody crackdowns.

The arms exhibition that recently opened in Abu Dhabi is a case in point: the three main contributors are France, Britain and Germany.

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