Strasbourg (France), March 9 (DPA) The European Union is considering sending a military mission to Libya to help evacuation efforts and address the humanitarian crisis, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday.
EU military missions are launched within the bloc’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Speaking to the European Parliament in France, Ashton said the EU was looking “on a prudent planning basis” at a “possible CFSP engagement”.
“That engagement would be to support current evacuation and humanitarian efforts,” she explained.
Work on planning the mission — which would need careful analysis and “proper answers on questions of mandate, resources and objectives” — was “ongoing this week”, Ashton said.
The EU’s top diplomat spoke ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers Thursday and of a summit Friday, dedicated to the situation in North Africa, and specifically to Libya.
She did not mention the possibility of imposing no-fly zone over Libya — an option under consideration by the international community, amid reports that Britain and France are preparing a UN Security Council resolution to authorise it.
The EU has repeatedly urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to go. On Wednesday, Ashton did not reiterate that call, but pledged to “work to support the emergence of a new Libya, (with) democratically-chosen leaders and (where) people’s rights are respected”.
Ashton also spoke about boosting support for Tunisia and Egypt, where democratic transitions have already started. Before they were toppled, the EU had long tacitly tolerated the autocratic regimes in both countries, in return for regional stability.
Now the EU was convinced that “the emergence of democratic societies will help to sustain security and provide shared prosperity in our neighbourhood”, Ashton assured.
The EU foreign policy chief announced that she would fly to Cairo on the weekend to meet the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, and new Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al Arabi.