Erdogan speaks out against UN sanctions on Libya

"Int'l community acting out of concern about Tripoli's oil reserves and not its people," Turkish PM says as UNSC mulls sanctions to punish Gaddafi; UK, Germany say sanctions should be implemented immediately.

By
February 26, 2011 18:21
2 minute read.
Erdogan flag

Erdogan flag 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United Nations not to impose sanctions on Libya, warning Saturday that the Libyan people would suffer most, not Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

Erdogan also suggested the international community might be acting more out of concern about Libya's oil reserves than about the welfare of the country's people.

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Erdogan spoke hours before UN Security Council members were to meet again to discuss ways to punish the Libyan leader for violent attacks against anti-government protesters. Up for consideration are an arms embargo against the Libyan government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Gaddafi, his relatives and key regime members.

"The people are already struggling to find food, how will you feed the Libyan people?" Erdogan asked. "Sanctions, an intervention, would force the Libyan people, who are already up against hunger and violence, into a more desperate situation."

"We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns," he said.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked on the phone Saturday and agreed the UN Security Council should approve harsh sanctions against the Libyan regime as soon as possible, Merkel's spokesman, Christoph Steegmans said in a statement.

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Merkel and Cameron also were in favor of sanctions against Libya by the European Union, he said.

In Washington, the White House announced sweeping new sanctions and temporarily abandoned its embassy in Tripoli as a final flight carrying American citizens left the embattled capital.

The UN Security Council was meeting Saturday for the second time in two days, under pressure from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take concrete action to protect civilians in Libya. On Friday, Libya's ambassador to the UN beseeched the council to help halt the deadly attacks that his once-close comrade has unleashed on his critics.

"I hope that within hours, not days, they can do something tangible, effective to stop what they are doing there — Gaddafi and his sons — against our people," Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham said after addressing the council.

A draft sanctions resolution circulated by France, Britain, Germany and the United States also would refer Gaddafi's violent crackdown to the International Criminal Court so it can investigate possible crimes against humanity.

Ban said some estimates indicate more than 1,000 people have been killed in less than two weeks since the protests broke out in the North African country, and that many people cannot leave their homes for fear of being shot.

"In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives," the UN chief said.


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