EU High Representative Catherine Ashton stressed here tonighht that the question on who should be the leader in Egypt rests on the Egyptian people themselves and not on outsiders .
“The Egyptian people have the right to determine the future leadership. It is not for us to get involved into internal discussions,” she told a press conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers here last night.
Ashton called on the Egyptian government to engage in open, frank, direct dialogue with the opposition parties and with civil society on and to listen to waht people say and to respond to that.
The EU foreign ministers had a Long and comprehensive discussion on Egypt, she noted. The main items on the agenda of the one-day mleeting were Egypt, Tunisia, Belarus, Lebanon, Cote d’Ivoire and freedom of religion or belief. Ashton said the foreign ministers expressed their admiration for the courage and determination shown by the Tunisian people in their struggle for democracy.
The EU foreign policy chief said she will meet the new Tunisian foreign minister in Brussels on Wednesday while she is planning herself to visit Tunisia in a few weeks time.
Commenting on the situation in Belarus she said that there was practically no change on the ground and noted that the EU has put a visa ban against 160 Belarus officials including President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as they are responsible for the flawed elections of 19 December.
On Ivory Coast, the EU foreign minisrers in a statement called on all civilian and military actors to recognise the authority of the democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara and his Government .
On the the Sahel region, the EU ministers in a statement said “the kidnapping and assassination of European citizens by terrorists in Niamey underline the growing threat in the region from organised crime and terrorist networks, in particular Al- Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).”
“These threats directly affect the local populations and States of the region, particularly Mauritania, Mali and Niger. They also have an impact on the security of European nationals,” it said.