By Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission
Remarks after the meeting with Secretary General of Arab League, Amr Moussa, Cairo, Egypt
First if all it is a great privilege to see you again and a great pleasure to be in Egypt and at the Arab League. I came here because I wanted to stress the importance and the value that we have put on our relationship with the Arab League by debriefing Secretary General directly after the European Council and the Foreign Affairs Council of last week.
It is important to stress again that we see our work in this region as a collaborative approach with the Arab League and with the countries of this region. We want to be partners in seeing a future transition with democracy, economic growth and development at the root of what is happening.
The second thing, as I’ve said, I came to do was to talk about what had happened at the European Council and to specifically describe the key issues that we discussed in terms of support for the region.
They fall into three groups: briefly, resources – the money, the ability that we have to be able to support the economies here and to support economic growth and jobs, both through greater investment and also through grants. That also applies to support for civil society in the pursuit of democracy and of human rights and freedom.
Secondly: mobility – the ability for students and business people, for example, to be able to benefit from greater access to Europe. We are very conscious of the young population of this region and the educational opportunities that perhaps could be offered to them.
And thirdly: market access – the capacity to be able to ensure that there is good access to the markets of Europe, not just in terms of opening markets but also ensuring that businesses can take advantage of those markets.
And that was the basis of the paper that was put to the European Council, the heads of state and government, and endorsed by them on Friday, and I wanted to make sure that everyone was fully aware of that.
One of the proposals being discussed is how we all work collaboratively together in terms of the African Union, the Arab League and the EU. And we’ve been discussing from my area, foreign policy, ways in which we can be better able to talk between foreign ministers and the Arab League to make sure that there is a greater understanding of what we’re trying to do, and more importantly, a greater understanding by us of what is needed. So, as well as the discussions about a broader summit-style meeting which were discussed at the European Union, we have also wanted to discuss the practical ways in which we can collaborate in the future.
Finally, we talked about Libya and the UN Security Council, which I understand will be discussing the issues again today and the possibilities of a no-fly zone. The European Council said very clearly that we are doing planning for all options, but looking to the legal basis for action which is the Security Council, and we are looking to the Arab League statement for Saturday which has now happened and which we were able to discuss. I think in a sense our eyes are now on the Security Council, but as we look at the situation in Libya we call again for an end to violence.