Gaddafi says Mediterranean Union will increase terrorism
Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi said Wednesday the French-proposed Mediterranean Union would be an "international minefield" as it would increase illegal immigration, terrorism and extremism.
A firm opponent of the plan, Gaddafi said immigrants would have a pretext to travel to Europe on the grounds they are members of the "union" and are free to move around in its member countries.
The union, which is due to be launched in Paris on July 13, aims at bolstering political and trade ties as well as security cooperation between the European Union and its neighbours on the southern coast of the Mediterranean, the dpa reported.
"I believe this project would increase terrorism and give justification to Islamist extremists to step up Jihad attacks," Gaddafi told a news conference. "Extremists would see the project as a crusade against Islam and a repetition for colonization of the Arab world by Western powers."
Libya, which hosted a mini-summit of Arab leaders last month to adopt a common stance on the Euro-Med union, is boycotting the Paris meeting.
Arab countries fear that joining the union will bring them together with Israel, which would mean normalizing ties with the Jewish state that still occupies Palestinian and Syrian land.
"Why do they force us to accept Israel as a condition for cooperation with them?" Gaddafi asked.
Egypt is the only Arab country on the Mediterranean with full diplomatic ties with Israel. Arab states adopted a peace initiative in 2002, which makes normalizing relations with Israel conditional on its withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in 1967.
"I predict this project will be a complete failure," Gaddafi said, after describing it as "frightening and dangerous."
"We do not need such a union because we already have oil, gas and other potentials," the Libyan leader said.
Gaddafi said he welcomed expanding cooperation between Mediterranean countries as was initially proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.