06 APR 2011
By Andrew Rettman (Van Rompuy: EU should take credit for Libya action
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said the Union should take credit for international action which prevented a "bloodbath" in Libya, amid a downgrading of the bloc's common security policy to a food-and-blankets aid mission.
Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (5 April), the Belgian politician said that British, French and UK strikes on Gaddafi targets on 19 March would "not have been possible" without the "clear position" taken on Libya at an EU summit one week earlier.
Noting that Germany voiced strong disapproval of military action at the time, he said "a massive bloodbath has been avoided ... This is the most important result and deserves the highest attention, more so than the decision-making process."
"From the beginning of the crisis, the European Union was at the forefront: the first to impose tough sanctions; the first to impose a travel ban on leading figures in the regime; the first to freeze Libyan assets; the first to recognise the Interim Transitional National Council as a valid interlocutor," he went on.
"Without European leadership there would have been massacres ... We acted in time and without Europe nothing would have been done at the global level or at the UN level."
The Van Rompuy speech comes amid US surprise at the lack of ambition showed by the Union on its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the context of the Libya conflict.
The Lisbon Treaty says: "The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security."
It also talks of "the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence."
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