EU Foreign Ministers meeting condemns violence in Egypt

Ahram Online, Wednesday 21 Aug 2013

EU's Ashton reiterates concern over violence in Egypt in emergency meeting in Brussels; Lithuanian FM demands sanctions imposed if violence continues

File photo: European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton at the end of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, June, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed her concern over "violence and terrorism" in Egypt.

In a statement issued during the EU's Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels Wednesday, the EU officially stated that it will examine possible collaboration with Egyptian officials to implement the road map.

"We are in contact with the Arab League and our common goal is ending the current crisis in Egypt," said Ashton.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Minister William Hague expressed Britain's support for all democratic institutions in Egypt, independent of any individuals or political parties.

"We condemn the excessive use of violence by the police and all terrorist activities carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood," said Hague.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle confirmed that the EU does not support a particular side and is working with all parties to ensure an inclusive political transition.

"The EU has no interest in Egypt's continued turmoil. We will continue to monitor the situation," added the German Minister.

Concerning EU aid to Egypt, Westerwelle clarified that no alternative apart from EU assistance, referring to the recent Gulf aid package to Egypt, could suffice.  

There may be little the EU can do to tighten the leash on Cairo by cutting back on aid, because much of their funds go to civil society groups, not the government, and Saudi Arabia has pledged to plug any shortfall if support is stopped, reported Reuters.

But Europe's approach will be closely watched by all sides in Egypt's worst period of civil strife in its modern history, since the EU has emerged as a key mediator in the conflict.

The bloc's 28 governments are likely to tread carefully, mixing expressions of concern over bloodshed, with limited - if any - changes in the 5 billion euro ($6.7 billion) aid package Europe promised to Egypt last year, diplomats said.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius expressed concern over Egypt's current crisis, adding that "sanctions must be imposed if the violence continues."

The minister did not clarify the nature of such sanctions.

"It is about finding a formula for Europe to help Egypt get from where it is now to where a vast majority of the people say they want to be," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters on Tuesday, before the emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

"That's going to be done by a political process and Egypt will need help to get there. And we are ready to help if they so wish," she said.

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