EU FMs mull sanctions against Egypt

Updated: 2013-08-21 20:23


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BRUSSELS - Some of the European Union (EU) member states foreign ministers request the 28-member bloc to adopt "untraditional measures" against Egypt on Wednesday, claiming the violence in the country has reached an unacceptable level.

"The traditional measures are not enough, it should be some sanctions," said Lithuania Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, when he arrived at the extraordinary Foreign Affair Council in Brussels.

"What exactly will be done is difficult to say, but I believe we will discuss these issues," he added.

Linkevicius's suggestion was backed by some EU big powers. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the EU is to send a "strong signal" to Egypt.

But before his departure to Brussels, Westerwelle told local media that the EU's appeal is to draw all parts in Egypt back to negotiating table "with maximum pressure".

Some EU member states including Germany and Italy suspended arms exports to Egypt, and Demark cut off its assistance for development projects in the country.

Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino called for all EU members stopping arm trade with Egypt, and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans urged the bloc to insist its rule of "more aid for more democracy" and "less for less".

But the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told press that the EU is still willing to find out a political solution to end the crisis.

The EU sees Egypt as a neighbor and a major partner in a region of strategic importance for the EU. The relations are assured by an Associations Agreement which came into force in 2004. The agenda of the EU-Egypt relation is outlined in a jointly agreed action plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The cooperation focuses on democratic reform, economic modernization, social reform and migration issues. Trade is another important subject of relations, said the statement.

The EU promised Egypt in November a total of 5 billion euro (6.7 billion US dollars) financial aid for a series of initiatives and projects on condition that democratic reform was implemented.