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Libya

Published on April 14, 2011
General Affairs Council – Press briefing given by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)

Luxembourg, April 12, 2011

LIBYA

THE MINISTER – We talked mainly about Libya and then, just now, Côte d’Ivoire. On Libya, I recalled our position: firstly, maintain pressure on the Gaddafi regime, military pressure of course, but also pressure through sanctions; secondly, improve humanitarian aid, and I’m hoping for the European Union to be active in this area. And then, lastly, I placed great emphasis on the need to promote political dialogue and try to find a political solution. From this point of view, the presence of Mr Jibril, who was representing the National Transitional Council, was a clear signal, one of recognition vis-à-vis the Council. I think Mr Jibril’s statement and the very clear, very honest, very detailed way he answered every question put to him really enlightened the Council. As you know, tomorrow in Doha we’re going to be working again on the way to facilitate this political dialogue in Libya. (…)

Q. – To maintain pressure there have to be military capabilities, NATO’s reply is that it’s doing what it can with the capabilities it’s got…

THE MINISTER – And French capabilities in particular, since we’re the leading contributor today. I hope other countries are going to relieve us. NATO was extremely keen to conduct this operation at the military level. So there you are, we’re now there, and so I have confidence in Mr Rasmussen to assemble the necessary capabilities. It’s unacceptable for Misrata to go on being bombarded by Gaddafi’s troops. We’re also going to talk about this, as you know, on Thursday and Friday, since the Libya Contact Group meeting is taking place in Doha tomorrow, and on Thursday there’s a NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin.

Q. – Does this mean we’ve got to hit harder and possibly take more risks for the people?

THE MINISTER – More risks, certainly not; but [we need to] exert the most effective military pressure possible, as has been the case since the outset, i.e. on military targets. Yes, we’ve got to be more effective here. When people are firing guns at Misrata, it clearly means there are guns – which must be locatable somewhere and can thus be neutralized.

Q. – You’re expecting the Spanish and Italians?

THE MINISTER – All contributions are welcome. Contributions from several European countries and a few Arab countries have already increased capabilities, as you know.

Q. – Is it still possible to launch political dialogue with Gaddafi in Tripoli?

THE MINISTER – That’s for the Libyans to decide. Clearly – and this was reaffirmed by all the ministers – our objective is to get Gaddafi out of the political game, because by employing the methods he’s used against his civilians he’s put himself beyond any legitimacy and any law. But, I repeat, it’s up to the Libyans to organize the political dialogue as they see fit, by including in it not only the National Transitional Council but also civil society and very likely the Tripoli officials who realize that no future is possible in the medium term with Gaddafi.

Q. – Isn’t the Contact Group losing to NATO part of its political control over NATO operations?

THE MINISTER – I think it’s the opposite… there has to be a clear distinction. The Contact Group is there to ensure political governance and deal notably with what I’ve just been talking about, i.e. finding a way out of the crisis. It’s up to NATO to plan, as part of its responsibilities, the military operations; it isn’t up to the Contact Group.

Q. – Do you think the European Union should or could send ground troops in Misrata to help…

THE MINISTER – Certainly not! I don’t think so at all, it’s been ruled out from the start, it strictly contradicts UNSCR 1973. So there’s no question of a ground intervention in Libya./.

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