Magazine article Europe-East

Foreign Affairs Council : Egypt and Tunisia: Crises Dominate Ministers' Agenda

Magazine article Europe-East

Foreign Affairs Council : Egypt and Tunisia: Crises Dominate Ministers' Agenda

Article excerpt

At the close of the Foreign Affairs Council, held on 31 January, ministers adopted conclusions aimed at supporting the democratic aspirations of Egyptian citizens and urging the country's authorities to do likewise. They also approved a decision establishing restrictive measures against leading Tunisian figures responsible for the embezzlement of public funds.

"The EU stands ready to assist the Egyptian people in this transformation process," said Catherine Ashton. The Council urges the Egyptian authorities to embark on an "orderly transition" paving the way for free and fair elections. However, the fear of seeing Islamists in power has been expressed by some member states. "These are subjects that have been mentioned. It is true that these fears may exist," acknowledged France's Foreign Affairs Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie. The Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Michael Spindelegger, said he was concerned that extremists might accede to power.

The Council also underlined the importance of Egypt's role in the region and of sharing the goal of building stability, peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the Middle East region.

These conclusions come shortly after the publication, on 29 January, of a joint declaration by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron. They call on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to "embark on a process of transformation" vis-a-vis the "legitimate grievances" of his people and to avoid the use of violence. …

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