EU backing fails to tip the balance with Libya

Clair O'Dea, Swissinfo, 23.02.2010

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There is no doubting the European Union’s economic strength but its foreign policy role may not be forceful enough to help Switzerland prevail in its row with Libya.

The Swiss-Libyan diplomatic row became pan-European last week when Tripoli said it would stop issuing entry visas to most EU citizens, in retaliation for a Swiss imposition of visa restrictions on some top Libyans. [...]

EU foreign policy expert Janis Emmanouilidis also sees the Schengen ban as a deliberate move.

“Tripoli was fully aware that by taking the row to the EU they would get a reaction,” Emmanouilidis of the European Policy Centre in Brussels told swissinfo.ch.

“But it shows a bigger problem if non-EU countries [in this case Libya] attempt to exploit weaknesses within the union to gain advantage,” he added.

While some Swiss politicians have been warning of the dire consequences – specifically when it comes to compromise on banking secrecy – of owing such a debt of gratitude to the EU, Emmanouilidis plays down such concerns.

“If the Swiss think they now owe the EU something, that is more a perception on their side. The situation is more complicated than that and does not imply an automatic quid pro quo.”

For the entire article see here.


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