Open Europe Blog

Klaus on the summit

Speaking about splits, here’s a pretty frank and thought-provoking note from Czech President Václav Klaus, regarding today’s EU summit on Libya:

Notes for the European Council on Libya

1. The Czech Republic considers today’s meeting as very important and timely. We support the measures, including sanctions, that have been introduced up till now on the side of the EU.

2. However, when we looked at the draft of the declaration, we did not find it very persuasive. There is no clear signal coming from it. Short-term and medium and also long-term goals and ambitions should be differentiated. I suppose we have met here today mainly because of the acute situation in Libya, which means we aim at a short-run. Of course, we must be able to see it in a wider and longer perspective and strategically, we have to know what to do not only today, but also tomorrow and day after tomorrow. Some of us attended the EU-Africa summit in Libya last November. I am afraid some of us did not see the crazy nature of Gaddafi’s regime and did not behave in a way which justifies our current strong words.

3. The Czech Republic is convinced that we have to try to help to stop the humanitarian tragedy in Libya now, but without intervening militarily in Libya or any other country, without picking up potential new leaders etc. In this respect we consider the recognition of the “Benghazi” Council at least premature, if not basically wrong.

4. We should be aware of the long-term consequences of our decisions. I warn – and that is the position of the Czech Republic – against talking about a no-fly zone because there is nothing like that. No-fly zone means a war because it requires to destroy both Libyan aircrafts and helicopters and Libyan air defense. It is a war. The pressure we should make is the resolute requirement for Qaddafi to step down without negotiating with him. I stress stepping down before negotiations, this sequencing is absolutely crucial. Unconditional surrender is the only possibility. We should make it very clear.

5. Several side-remarks:
– It seems to me it is necessary to warn against comparing the situation in Northern Africa now with Central and Eastern Europe 20 years ago (Buzek), at that time the “rebels” (Orban, me) had clear views about the future, I am not sure it is the case in Egypt or Libya now;

– The experience with one of the institutions which were hastily established after the fall of communism in 1989 – the EBRD – is visibly negative. It has never been a real help to the countries in my region. We are, therefore, very much against creating another similar bank, we suggest to delete the idea of the “Bank for the Mediterranean” out of the text;

– On the contrary, we suggest to include one idea into our declaration which is not there – our long-term help should be offering the North African region open markets in Europe;

– I heard, in our meeting before lunch, the term “Gaddafi’s money”. It reminds the attempts to find “communist bosses’ money” in our part of the world. Nothing like that exists.

Václav Klaus, Brussels, 11 March 2011

Author :