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EU commissioner Dalli defends pro-Gaddafi speech
Date 07/03/2011 11:26  Author webmaster  Hits 1467  Language Global
07 MAR 2011

AFP

BRUSSELS, Mar 05, 2011 (AFP) - Maltese European Commissioner John Dalli on Saturday defended remarks backing Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi that broke ranks with EU diplomatic leaders who want the veteran colonel out.

Dalli, who has enjoyed close commercial ties with Tripoli for a quarter of a century, told a Maltese business forum on Friday that he "didn't think (he) had the right, or anyone else, to make a statement on whether (Kadhafi) should step down."

"I think Kadhafi should make his own decisions. He has the assessment of the people, as he has said on TV," Dalli added. "I think Kadhafi has made the first attempt towards conciliation."

The 62-year-old commissioner also backed Kadhafi's suggestion that outside forces had manipulated media coverage of protests over the past fortnight, leading to the present situation of near-civil war.

"Sometimes doubt creeps into one's head when seeing people speaking perfect English and hoisted up by a group of people made to look like a crowd. I wonder if they might be shots 'created' for journalists," Dalli was quoted as saying by Maltese media.

Dalli's boss, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, this week said it was time for Kadhafi "to go and give the country back to the people of Libya," with the EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also demanding that Kadhafi "stand aside."

Spokesman Frederic Vincent told AFP he had been in contact with Dalli on Saturday, and argued that "personal commentaries" on a country he knows well, "that's no secret," should not be confused with his core beliefs.

"He said a solution that respects human rights had to be found," Vincent insisted.

"That is totally in line with the democratic values that guide the commission.

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See also:
EU Commissioner breaks ranks with Barroso over Gaddafi (Ukipmeps.org news)
Commissioner forced to apologise for Libya remarks (EurActiv)
Barroso intervened with Dalli to issue ‘clarification’ (Times of Malta)