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Summary: 19 March 2011, Paris - Address by Herman VAN ROMPUY, President of the European Council, to the Paris Summit on support for the Libyan people
On 11 March 2011 the European Council expressed its support for the people of Libya in their aspirations to freedom and dignity. It concluded that the Gaddafi regime had lost all moral and political legitimacy following its brutal crackdown on its own citizens, which is continuing at this very moment.
The European Council wants the safety of the Libyan people to be secured by all necessary means. To that end it has decided to "examine all necessary options, provided that there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region".
Those three conditions are now in place. The manifest need is there; witness the humanitarian situation and the intolerable threat to the population of Benghazi and other towns. We cannot stand idly by while a massacre takes place.
The legal basis is provided by UN Security Council Resolution 1973. This is a very clear legal basis for the international community to protect the civilian population. I should like to thank those who took the initiative in bringing forward that Resolution, and I should like to thank the UN Secretary-General for his support.
Regional support is clearly there. I underline here the vital role played by the Arab League and its resolution 7360.
Time is pressing. The resolution of the UN Security Council has to be implemented as soon as possible. Action is needed now to protect the population.
The forces of the current Libyan regime must withdraw from all areas they have entered by force, return to their compounds and allow humanitarian aid through. The political transition must start immediately, with a key role for the National Transitional Council.
From the beginning of the crisis the European Union was at the forefront, imposing tough sanctions, which go even further than those of the UN Security Council, and providing humanitarian aid. We stand ready for further action in this field.
We also stand ready to help a new Libya, both economically, and in building its new institutions. The European Union is ready to implement Resolution 1973 within the confines of its mandate and its powers.
These are historic days for this region of the world to which Libya belongs and to which Europe is so close.
We have to help history take its course. But first and foremost we have to support the Libyan people, at a time when so many lives are at stake.