Germany warns against 'crusade' perception in Libya

12th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Saturday that military intervention in Libya might be seen as a Western crusade, as EU states discussed imposing a possible no-fly zone.

"It is crucial not to give the impression that this is a conflict between the West and the Arab world, of a Christian crusade against people of the Muslim faith," Westerwelle told journalists on the margins of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers outside Budapest.

EU countries have been debating the need for a no-fly zone in Libya to protect the population from being attacked by Kadhafi's forces, in various meetings over the past two days.

Britain and France have been pushing for a no-fly zone, but in a final statement following an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday, EU states made no mention of such a move, although they acknowledged the need to eye "all necessary options" to protect civilians.

Westerwelle also insisted Saturday on the need to hold talks with southern Mediterranean countries, to avoid endangering the democratic process evolving in Libya's neighbours, Egypt and Tunisia.

"(If) the freedom movement in the entire Arabic world collapses, succumbs, because there is the impression that this is an intervention by the West and not a freedom movement, then we will be doing the democrats a disservice and that I want to avoid at all costs," he said.

Foreign ministers from the European Union's 27 member states were meeting in Godollo Saturday just as the Arab League, whose green light is seen as key for a no-fly zone, convened in Cairo.

Many European states have also been calling for a resolution by the UN Security Council as as "legal framework" authorising an air-exclusion zone, which has also been described as a military intervention.

© 2011 AFP

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