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9 mars 2011

The Libyan crisis confronts Europe with « a huge challenge » in which wrong decisions could have dangerous long-term consequences, said Martin Schulz, leader of the European Parliament’s main progressive group, the 186-strong Socialists and Democrats, today.

 Speaking in a Strasbourg debate with EU foreign policy supremo Baroness Ashton, Mr Schulz declared:  « Gadaffi is a criminal.  He is a murderer who should be put in the dock at an international court.  This man will not escape his punishment. »

He warned: « We are confronted with a serious, difficult challenge which demands clear-headedness on our part.  We need to see a stop to fratricide in the country and we should not exclude any measures to achieve that, and that includes military ones.  

« But we have to look at our conscience.  A wrong decision here could potentially have a long-term detrimental impact. » 

Mr Schulz insisted on involvement of the Arab League and the African Union in action over Libya, including the potential introduction of a no-fly zone.  « On the basis of the UN Security Council and with the involvement of Arab countries — that is the only path that we can follow.

« He added:  « I don’t think that we should act prematurely, which might salve our conscience on a short-term basis, because it could be dangerous. »

Mr Schulz welcomed proposals for a Marshall plan for the region. But he stressed that the original Marshall plan for Europe had required a one per cent commitment of the total economic performance of the US to Europe.  Its result was the European Union, with peace dividends, prosperity dividends and the development of democracy never before seen on the continent. 

Criticising EU leaders who thought a one per cent commitment was excessive, Mr Schulz said: « If we really want to stabilise our southern neighbourhood countries, there is something that people need.  They need prospects of being able to live in peace, democracy and prosperity.  They should be getting what we already have. »

He concluded:  « It’s all very well to make noble pronouncements but that doesn’t help people in the southern neighbourhood.  They need these words to be matched by tangible deeds. »


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