Libya: Sarkozy pushes EU onto warpath
11 March 2011
While the heads of state and governments of the EU are convening in Brussels for an extraordinary summit on the crisis in Libya, “Sarkozy and Cameron have asked the EU to recognise the leaders of the Libyan rebellion”, writes El País. On 10 March, the French President and the British Prime Minister addressed a joint letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in which they express their support for the efforts of the National Libyan Council (NLC) based in Benghazi to “prepare a representative and responsible government”.
The French President has already gone even further, recognising the NLC as “the legitimate representative of the Libyan people” and calling for air strikes in Libya. “France, which has totally bombed on the diplomatic front since the start of the Arab revolutions, now wants to be the country that will henceforth make Europe and the international community face up to its moral and humanitarian responsibilities in Libya,” writes Libération, which goes on to accuse Sarkozy on its front page of “bravado”.
The French President’s pronouncements have startled “our European partners, who would have preferred a common position on a crisis that calls for collective solutions – military, legal and diplomatic,” notes the French daily. But Nicolas Sarkozy was desperate to be the first to draw the sword, to don once more – at last! – the costume of the go-it-alone president out to solve the problems of the world.”
In fact, El País asserts, “The EU is alarmed by the possibility of getting dragged wholly into the conflict.” Worse, regrets Le Soir, the recognition of the NLC by France was made “without consulting with the rest of Europe” even though “the EU countries had made provision for an entire mechanism to discuss the situation in Libya.” Result: “Collateral damage, and not the least of it: Europe's policy has already taken a body blow from the war in Libya. It’s not yet in a critical condition, but the credibility of the EU as an actor on the world stage has been seriously damaged.”