EU's Ashton "very worried" about Libya, pleas for end to violence
EU foreign ministers gathered in Brussels late Sunday for a special brainstorming dinner on pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, as the bloc's top diplomat expressed her concern about the latest developments, dpa reported.
More than 200 people were reported dead in Libya following a violent crackdown on protests against authoritarian leader Moamer Gaddafi, while demonstrations continued in Bahrain, where bloody clashes took place earlier in the week.
"I think of Libya, I think of what's been happening in Bahrain on the weekend ... we urge restraint, we urge an end to violence and we urge dialogue," the European Union's High Representative Catherine Ashton told journalists before chairing the ministerial talks.
"I'm really worried about what's been happening in Libya at the present time. We've been urging restraint, we continue to do, it's very important ... that violence stops," she insisted.
The EU has been walking on a diplomatic tightrope since the uprisings flared up last month.
On the one hand, the bloc is keen to support democracy and human rights. On the other, it is wary of the instability revolts may bring about - with a surge in EU-bound migrants and a rise of Islamist movements among top concerns.
Exploiting those fears, Gaddafi has often warned that the EU could be faced with mass immigration from Africa if it stopped cooperating with his regime.
But Ashton seemed unfazed.
"We hear threats, we hear people saying you should not do this, you should not do that, in the end the European Union does what's right," she said.