Libyan leader rejects Euro-Mediterranean union


Tripoli : Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi rejected Tuesday a French-proposed Euro-Mediterranean union, which he described as an “insult” to Arabs and Africans.

Support TwoCircles

The union, which was proposed by France and endorsed by the European Union (EU), would bolster political and trade ties as well as security cooperation between the 27-member bloc and its neighbours on the southern coast of the Mediterranean.

“We are taken as fools. We do not belong to Brussels. The Arab League is in Cairo and the African Union is in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). If they want to cooperate with us, they should go through Cairo or Addis Ababa,” Gaddafi said at the start of a mini-summit of Arab leaders in the Libyan capital

The presidents of Libya, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania are attending the summit, which is seeking to adopt a common stance on the union expected to be launched in Paris July 13.

Morocco is represented by lower-level officials, while Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak was kept away by a busy schedule, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said.

Gaddafi derided Euro-Mediterranean economic cooperation foreseen by the proposed union, calling it a “bait” that Europeans are trying to attract Arabs with.

“It is an insult to us Arabs and Africans,” he added.

Arab countries fear that joining the union will bring them together with Israel. This would mean normalizing ties with the Jewish state, which still occupies Palestinian and Syrian land.

Both Syria and the Palestinian Authority would be members of the union. Egypt is the only Arab Mediterranean country with full diplomatic ties with Israel.

Arab countries adopted a peace initiative in 2002, which makes normalizing relations with Israel conditional on its withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in 1967.