EU ministers to endorse Mideast protests "that come from within"
European Union foreign ministers are set to pledge their support for protests sweeping North Africa and the Middle East at their next round of monthly talks this weekend,.
A draft statement seen by the German Press Agency dpa on Friday has the ministers expressing "support to democratic transition ... that comes from within."
The spread of pro-democracy movements from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya, Bahrain, Iran and Yemen is set to dominate the agenda of the talks, scheduled for late Sunday and all of Monday.
At the meeting, ministers are expected to offer "specific political initiatives and support packages building on existing and relevant support" to accompany the democratic changes, according to the draft statement.
The document promises "adequate means to contribute to the most urgent needs for socio-economic development" in Tunisia and expresses readiness "to accompany the peaceful transition to a civilian and democratic government" in Egypt.
However, no specific figures are mentioned in either case.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, visited Tunis earlier this week, and is expected to travel to Cairo after the EU meeting on Monday to negotiate the aid packages.
Over recent weeks, protesters in Tunisia and Egypt have managed to topple long-standing autocratic presidents, setting an example for the rest of the region, but also fueling Western fears about the danger of an Islamist takeover of the new democracies.
However, the EU's line on internal political developments is expected to remain ostensibly non-interventionist.
"In the light of events in Egypt and Tunisia, it is for the people of these countries to choose their future," the draft ministerial statement said.