EU in Cairo confirms ‘no ground troops’ in Libya

Osman El Sharnoubi, Monday 21 Mar 2011

The EU delegation in Cairo offers support post-revolution and affirms there are no ground troops planned for Libya

A press conference was held by the delegation of the European Parliament Tuesday morning in Cairo at the Marriott hotel.

The delegation had met with Egyptian youth coalitions, NGOs, human rights activists and representatives of different political forces.

The delegation also met with Amr Mousa, secretary general of the Arab League and minister of foreign affairs to discuss the important developments in Egypt and the region, and to express their “readiness to accompany the democratic transition in Egypt.”

Jerzy Busek, President of the European Parliament, headed the delegation and spoke at the press conference.

Busek started by paying tribute to the “courage and determination” of the Egyptian people, mentioning his visit to Tahrir Square where the majority of the protests took place. He showed pictures taken of him with the protesters and stated he had had “very moving encounters” with Egyptian citizens.

Busek expressed his hopes that after the revolution a relationship of trust and credibility would develop between Egypt and Europe and that greater openness from Egyptian society to its European counterpart would be possible.

On the situation in Libya, Busek asserted that changes do not always occur peacefully, and that the most important task of the international community is to protect Libyan civilians.

Answering a question about what was termed a “military attack on Libya,” and whether it was to protect civilians or to remove Gaddafi, Busek answered that it was to stop Gaddafi from killing his own people and to avert a humanitarian disaster.

“There are no plans to send ground troops” was Busek’s to-the-point reply to an inquiry about the extent of force that Europe would use in dealing with the crisis in Libya.

Busek stressed that the Arab and Int’l community was working and cooperating side by side on the Libyan matter.

Asked about Amr Mousa’s concerns about the no-fly zone operation, Busek said that he had embarked upon a deep discussion with Mousa about the subject, and maintained that Arab, European and other nations are acting hand-in-hand.  

Busek upheld democratic values and said it hoped the Egyptian economy would improve and become a market economy where more jobs can be created.

About the Egyptian economy, Busek expressed the European will to help in a more concrete way, focusing on small and medium business and micro finance assistance.

He added that “nothing should be imposed on Egyptian people,” making a strong point that Egyptians should choose their preferred path in development.

He hoped that strengthening the economy in Egypt would lead to a step-by-step opening of Egyptian markets to strengthen trade with the EU.

In response to a question raised about the human rights situation in Egypt after 25 January, where arrests and torture are still taking place, and where Egyptian activists were abused in the Egyptian museum by military police, Busek showed his awareness of such practices.

He said he had discussed the issue with the youth organisations from Tahrir Square and representatives of civil society organisations.

Busek expressed his belief that a democratic transition is an appropriate reply to those unfortunate events.

“Democracy is always giving a solution to human rights,” Busek said.

In the current circumstances in Egypt, the answer to this problem may be “next week, next month, next year” Busek added.

When asked about Mubarak’s assets in Egypt, Busek hesitated and replied he should not comment.

“We can wait, on the basis of international relations, we can solve the problem,” said Busek, preferring not to go “too far with the question now.”

The press conference was concluded with Busek congratulating the Egyptian people for their courage and determination, saying they are changing the whole region and impacting the world.

“The European Union is changing thanks to you,” Busek stated.

He also pressed for the need for cooperation between Egypt and the EU during the immense changes that are taking over the region.   

The visit of the delegation comes at a significant point in Egyptian politics, where the first post-Mubarak referendum took place with unprecedented participation of over 18 million citizens.

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