Warning as UN meets on Gaddafi punishment
Sanctions would hit Libyan people and not dictator, says Turkish PM
Published 27/02/2011 | 05:00
Turkey's Prime Minister has urged the United Nations not to impose sanctions on Libya, warning that the Libyan people would suffer most, not Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also suggested that the international community might be acting more out of concern about Libya's oil reserves than about the welfare of the country's people.
Mr 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.
Under consideration are an arms embargo against the Libyan government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Colonel Gaddafi, his relatives and key regime members.
"The people are already struggling to find food. How will you feed the Libyan people?" Mr 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."
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked on the phone yesterday and agreed that the UN Security Council should approve harsh sanctions against the Libyan regime as soon as possible, Mrs Merkel's spokesman, Christoph Steegmans, said.
Mrs Merkel and Mr Cameron are also in favour of European Union sanctions against Libya, he said.
Mr Cameron's office said he also spoke to Mr Erdogan and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and "made clear that the Libyan regime would face the consequences of its actions".
"There can be no impunity for the blatant and inhuman disregard for basic rights that is taking place in Libya," the spokesman said.
In Washington, the White House announced sweeping new sanctions and temporarily abandoned its embassy in Libyan capital Tripoli as a final flight carrying American citizens left the embattled capital.
The UN Security Council was meeting yesterday for the second time in two days, under pressure from secretary general Ban Ki-moon to take concrete action to protect civilians in Libya.
Yesterday, 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 Col Gaddafi's violent crackdown to the International Criminal Court so it can investigate possible crimes against humanity.