Orbán: Europe must not drift into war with Arab countries
Heads of State and governments, confirmed the expansion of sanctions against Libya at their extraordinary meeting in Brussels, on 11 March 2011. After the Council meeting, Head of the Hungarian Government, Viktor Orbán, welcomed the “cautious” declaration adopted, and stated that the EU must refrain from military operations that could result in losing the trust of Arab nations.
“We are past a long and exhausting debate” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, during his brief press statement after the extraordinary session of the Council of Europe ended in Brussels, on 11 March. The meeting managed to develop a common position “considered to be the minimum, which everyone accepts,” but “naturally, differences also remained”, the Hungarian head of government said, evaluating the results of the summit.
Some Member States, including Hungary, think “nothing would force Europe to go to war with the Arab countries” Viktor Orbán remarked, stressing that “ military operations that could result in losing the trust of Arab nations, must be avoided.”
Orbán: Arabs themselves are to decide the fate of the Arab World
The head of government remarked that the events in the southern neighbourhood of the European Union “pose a significant challenge to Europe". Orbán referred to the potential danger of increasing migration pressure on Europe. “Will the world south of us become more democratic? Will the flow of refugees stop? And will Arab countries be able to keep their sons and daughters at home?" the Prime Minister asked. On the other hand, he also reminded that “the Arabs themselves are to decide the fate of the Arab World. We can provide assistance, but cannot tell them how they should live." “We must be very careful with every move, even every sentence that the Arabs may construe to mean that the Christian world, i.e. Europe is about to interfere one way or another, and would be willing to go as far as to apply military means” warned Viktor Orbán. He explained this dilemma triggered “a heated debate on choosing a more cautious or less cautious wording for the adopted statement”. The head of the Hungarian government said the EU leaders finally opted for a more careful statement. “Personally, I am satisfied with that. I believe that at this point, our diplomacy must serve peace” he added.
Herman Van Rompuy to brief the presidency on the euro summit meeting in Budapest
After the extraordinary summit devoted to North Africa, the heads of state and governments of countries in the euro area, started another (also extraordinary) meeting. Concerning that discussion, Orbán said that the participants of the euro summit “have very difficult issues to resolve." According to the Hungarian head of government “the outcome of the meeting of heads of state and governments of the euro area” will determine whether or not the whole day is a success. Orbán announced that Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council is to visit Budapest on 12 March; and to brief the Hungarian presidency on the decisions of the euro zone summit.
Barroso: Gaddafi has to go
After the EU summit on Libya, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, urged Gaddafi to relinquish power. “The problem has a name: Gaddafi; he must go” Barroso said, at his Brussels press conference held jointly with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. Van Rompuy pointed out that the fact of 27 national leaders of the European Union attending the extraordinary EU summit on Libya is in itself a strong signal, as it has only happened three times in ten years: for the Georgian War, the Iraq War, and the 9/11 attacks.
Member States to share the burden
“The Libyan regime, applies violence against its own people and those responsible, will face grave consequences” Van Rompuy warned. The European Council acknowledged the temporary council established in Benghazi as a political interlocutor, since this body was found “sufficiently reliable” he added. According to Van Rompuy, the European Union will examine all possibilities to settle the situation. The president stated that any further step requires a demonstrable need, legal base and support from the region. Both Barroso and Van Rompuy underlined that real solidarity and burden sharing are necessary among the Member States, in order to handle the humanitarian crisis and the refugee situation.
The EU to consider every possible option
As a result of the summit devoted to North Africa, the European Council accepted a declaration, stating that Member States “will examine all necessary options” in the future to protect the civilian population of Libya, “provided there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis; and support from the region” the document adds. The declaration also confirms that the EU will work with the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union, and international partners to respond to the crisis. The document states that “Gaddafi must relinquish power immediately. His regime has lost all legitimacy and is no longer an interlocutor for the EU.” The declaration calls for the rapid holding of a summit between the Arab League, the African Union and the European Union.
Grave humanitarian situation
The heads of state and governments expressed their concern about the humanitarian situation at the Libyan border, and in that regard, invite the Justice and Home Affairs Council to “meet without delay”. Furthermore, to submit, in cooperation with the Commission, a plan for the development of capacities to manage migration and refugee flows, before the June summit.
Presidency: a complete revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy is needed
According to a "non-paper" document prepared by the Hungarian Presidency on 11 March 2011, a complete revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is needed – one that is based on long-term thinking and not guided by short-term considerations only. The EU needs a comprehensive, coherent and credible regional strategy towards the North African and Middle Eastern region. If High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy agrees, the Presidency will propose convening an informal meeting of ministers responsible for development cooperation in Budapest in the first half of 2011 in order to facilitate comprehensive thinking on ENP. Although recent dramatic developments have focused the Union’s political attention on its Southern Neighbourhood, the EU must remain fully committed to strengthening relations also with its Eastern European Partners, the "non-paper" states.