EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton has been facing critical questions in the European Parliament about divisions over involvement in Libya. The EU has adopted sanctions against the Gaddafi government and is preparing humanitarian help but there are strong concerns over military action. Ashton has tried to downplay differences among the bloc’s members.
Ashton said: I don’t recognise the word ‘divided’. There are different approaches from different member States to the military issues, but a real strength of view on coming together on the other issues.
euronews: When it comes to political-military issues, don’t you think that Paris and London have gone many steps too far compared with other countries of the bloc?
Ashton: If you look at the Council conclusions from last week: it talks about the fact that that is for Member States to determine. They are sovereign nations. They determine what approach they take to military action, and that’s right and proper. That’s for them to do. They are sovereign states. The question, when it is the EU, is how we work most effectively together to offer support, and we are united in that. We set the conditions for the Security Council resolution, for the support for the region and for the real need, and then it is for the Member States to work out how they respond to that.
euronews: There are EU countries that are asking for an intervention of NATO, rather than this kind of bilateral, unilateral intervention.
Ashton: I was talking to the Secretary General of NATO this morning, we were talking with each other, and in the conclusions we talk about the complementarity of the role of NATO, and the role of the EU, and it is different. NATO of course is a very different organisation [from] the EU, and for me the focus of my work has been on building that long-term approach to the region, to Libya, to other countries, that will help them have the kind of economic and political future that we really want them to see.”