Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tidbits on Libya and the EU

A brief from EUobserver reports that on May 26 Hadeiba Hadi, the Libyan Ambassador to the EU, defected from his post as representative of the Qaddafi regime in Brussels. His staff also resigned.

In a statement made to the AFP, Hadi explained that he and his team felt obliged to make a decision to "no longer represent the regime," which is currently embattled against rebel forces seeking to ouster the Libyan leader from his decades-long rule.

Speaking of EU-Libyan affairs, last week EU foreign affairs chief Lady Catherine Ashton opened an EU office in Benghazi, Libya, where rebel governing structures like the Transitional National Council (TNC) are based. In a statement made following a meeting with the TNC's Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Ashton promised EU partnership in policy areas including security, economy, health, education and civil society. 

The EU's move to set up shop in Benghazi marks perhaps the boldest diplomatic decision for Libya's long haul. This takes one step further the decision by French president Nicolas Sarkozy to be the first to recognize the Libyan rebels' legitimacy. Much remains to be seen in the development of a Libya without Qaddafi in charge -- and even this, though desired by much of the international community, is a far-from-certain outcome. 

In an unexpected result from the G8 conference currently taking place in Deauville, France, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev has offered to try to coax Qaddafi into stepping down. This seems like an unreliable hand-off of negotiating power should the decision-makers in Europe and the US decide to go with it. But it may allow Russia to assert itself as a key player in conflict resolution, while the EU and US would benefit from some much-needed relief to then focus on issues closer to home such as the ongoing euro crisis and global recession more broadly. More to follow.