EU may impose sanctions on Mali militia
EU LEADERS have described the crisis in Mali, where Islamists have seized control of much of the north of the country, as an “immediate threat” to Europe and threatened to impose sanctions on the armed militia there.
It was the first time EU leaders had pronounced collectively on the developing crisis, which broke out in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to take control of the north. Islamists, some allied with al-Qaeda, have since hijacked their revolt.
“This situation poses an immediate threat to the Sahel region as well as to the West and North Africa and to Europe,” the 27 EU leaders said in a statement after their two-day summit in Brussels.
The intervention came as regional leaders were meeting in Mali’s capital, Bamako, to discuss whether the Islamists should be dislodged by military intervention or a more gradual political approach.
The United Nations Security Council last week gave African leaders 45 days to draw up a plan for military intervention to retake control of the north.
France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, has six hostages held by the Islamists, and has been pushing hard for military action.
The EU heads of state and government also warned they would further tighten sanctions against Iran if Tehran did not curb its nuclear activities.
The EU imposed new sanctions on Iran this week as part of a western push to force the country to make concessions over its nuclear programme.
In their statement, the leaders said Iran was in “flagrant violation” of nuclear non-proliferation rules but that if it began to comply the sanctions could be lifted.
“The Iranian regime can act responsibly and bring sanctions to an end,” they said. “But as long as it does not do so, the EU remains determined to increase, in close co-ordination with international partners, pressure on Iran.”
On Syria, the summit participants said they were appalled by the deterioration of the situation and would continue to provide aid. They pledged to strengthen the EU’s support for civil society in Syria and called on opposition groups to work together for a peaceful and orderly transition.