Thursday, August 17

European Liberals’ leader calls for Marshall Plan for Arab Spring countries

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BRUSSELS, April 10 (KUNA) — President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament and former prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhoftadt, Thursday criticised the EU for failure to adopt an effective policy to help the Arab Spring countries, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria.
“There was total absence of the European Union (in these events). We failed and still failed to support the moderate opposition in Syria,” he told a press conference during the launch of a book titled آ‘Inside the Arab Revolution.آ’ “We were unable to create a vision. We did develop a plan but it was just a repackaging of the old bureaucratic path and selling them again by adding a few euros more. A main Southern Neighbourhood strategy from the EU is still not there,” he lamented.
Verhofstadt called for a Marshall Plan for Arab Spring countries saying “what we need really is such a Marshall Plan. The Arab world is closer to Europe than Europe is to the US.” The Marshall Plan was the massive American economic and financial assistance to help in rebuilding of Europe after the Second World War.
Meanwhile, the author of the book, Koert Debeuf, a Belgian political observer, lived for three years in Cairo since September 2011 as a representative of ALDE.
The 226-page book is actually a collection of his blogs and reports about his stay in Cairo and travels to, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey.
The book gives an insight into the ups and down of developments in the Arab spring countries and how social media was deployed to great effect to spread messages and mobilise support.
Speaking at the press conference, Debeuf admitted that “Europeans have very little knowledge of the Arab world and Islam.” He said that the book in English is now being translated into Arabic also.
In his foreword to the book, Verhofstadt writes that “probably the most important change in world politics at the moment is the retreat of the US from the Middle East.” He also noted that the US is “becoming less and less interested in the EU.” (end) nk.sd

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