EU needs to judge effect of Libya sanctions

Saturday 12 Mar 2011

The European Union needs to judge the effectiveness of sanctions on Libya before deciding on further measures

EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaking on Sautrday to reporters ahead of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers said that she would go from Budapest to Cairo to talk to the Arab League to discuss Libya.

When asked if the EU was looking to impose further sanctions on Libya including on the vital oil and gas sector, she said:

"We've already, as you know, done some sanctions not just on people but what we call entities," Ashton said.

"And with all sanctions it's really important that you keep looking to see how effective they would be and whether there is more you can do. So I'm trying to keep all the options moving forward to make sure that we're thinking about all the possibilities."

European Union leaders agreed on Friday to consider various options to try to force Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, but stopped short of endorsing air strikes, a no-fly zone or other military-backed means.

A statement demanded Gaddafi step down immediately and EU leaders said talks with the rebel movement were under way.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi reiterated on Saturday, ahead of the ministers' meeting in Budapest, that the EU would consider taking military action if all conditions listed in the Council's statement on Friday were met.

"Member states would take military action if need be, and if all those conditions as listed in yesterday's statement are there -- and this is that there is a demonstrable need for such an action, also there is a clear legal basis by which we all mean a resolution of the Security Council and also there is support from the countries in the region, basically there is support from the Arab countries, indeed from the Arab League."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday the EU would look at imposing more sanctions on Libya, especially in the financial and economic area, to make it clear Gaddafi had no international support.

The EU has already imposed sanctions on the Libyan Investment Authority, the central bank, three other financial institutions and 27 people including Gaddafi. Britain said it alone had frozen $19 billion of Libyan assets.

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