Europe meets Africa at Cairo summit

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Eager to capitalize on the suspension of sanctions against his country, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder April 4 on the fringes of a summit of African and European nations. Details on their discussions were not immediately available.

Mr. Qaddafi, emerging from decades of international ostracism, wants to project himself to Africans as a man willing to champion their causes. But with economic benefits in sight, he also wants to build on growing relations with Europe, following the suspension of United Nations sanctions last year.

The embargo on oil industry parts and air travel was suspended after Libya handed over for trial two suspects in the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. That prompted visits by European business executives seeking trade with the oil-rich state.

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On the sidelines of the Cairo summit, Qaddafi has met Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission; Massimo D'Alema, premier of Italy (Libya's largest trading partner), and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, in addition to Mr. Schrder.

Still, on the agenda for the second day of a summit between the representatives of 52 African and 15 European Union nations were the sensitive issues of human rights, good governance, and the rule of law. The EU said it would stress these social issues as a condition for cooperation with African nations.

But some Africans consider this colonial-style lecturing.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe responded April 3 to British criticism that Zimbabwe officials have not done enough to protect opposition protesters from attacks or white-owned farms from unauthorized squatters." Britain has no right to try to suggest to the rest of the world that we are a failure," he said. "We are not the only developing country with problems."

A final declaration and a plan of action to be approved Tuesday by summit participants include a dozen points on general issues of human rights and democratic principles, from the condemnation of genocide to the need to combat gender discrimination.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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