Monday

9th Dec 2019

EU commissioner goes off-message on Gaddafi

Maltese EU commissioner John Dalli has made comments which appear to support Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and which flatly contradict those of Mr Dalli's boss, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Speaking to press at an event organised by the Malta Business Bureau on Friday (5 March) morning in Malta, the EU health commissioner, who has a long history of business links with Libya, said he "didn't think [he] had the right, or anyone else, to make a statement on whether he [Gaddafi] should step down."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He added: "I think Gaddafi should make his own decisions. He has the assessment of the people, as he has said on TV ... I think Gaddafi has made the first attempt towards conciliation."

Mr Dalli said he is "in no way" a defender of Gaddafi and condemned the violence in Libya. But he then repeated the Libyan leader's own line that outside forces are manipulating media coverage of protests.

"The US admitted that they have lost the race for information in Libya - this, and the way information is getting out, is problematic," he said. "Sometimes doubt creeps into one's head when seeing people speaking perfect English and hoisted up by a group of people made to look like a crowd. I wonder if they might be shots 'created' for journalists."

Mr Dalli's comments flatly contradict the position taken by Mr Barroso in a speech in Brussels two days ago.

"It is time for him [Gaddafi] to go and give the country back to the people of Libya," Mr Barroso said. "It is our duty to say to the Arab people that we are on their side."

A Dalli spokesman told this website that he had not seen the Friday morning quotes, but that anything Mr Dalli might have told local press in Malta is not necessarily his official view as an EU commissioner.

The 62-year-old Mr Dalli has built up close personal links with the Libyan regime over the past two decades.

In 2004 he set up John Dalli & Associates, a consultancy firm which specialised in opening doors for Maltese businessmen in Libya and which had an office in Tripoli. He also worked as a director in the Azizia Glass Manufacturing Company (AGMC), which has a multi-million-euro factory in the north African dictatorship.

He quit AGMC and John Dalli & Associates when he became a Maltese minister in 2008. But he kept John Dalli & Associates in the family by handing the business to his daughters and he still owns a house in Tripoli.

In his own online biography posted in 2008 he spoke about his work for the Libya Maltese Joint Commission in the 1987 to 1996 and 1998 to 2004 periods when Libya was under UN sanctions.

He said that "levels of economic activities between the two countries increased" despite the UN measures. He added that he had "established a strong network at the political and executive levels of that country."

At another business event in Valetta in 2007, he said: "Malta had served as a gateway between Libya and the outside world during the days of international sanctions ... Business with Libya means business in Libya and face-to-face contact is essential."

EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans

An emergency resolution adopted at the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Zagreb calls on the EU Council and member states to take a positive decision on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as soon as possible.

Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

The outgoing president of the EU council, Donald Tusk, is set to be elected as the president of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). Tusk will have to deal with the final decision over Hungary's ruling Fidesz.

Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says

In a boost for the cause of three Catalan MEPs, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice has recognised their mandate as elected MEPs - but it is up to the parliament if they should enjoy immunity.

Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority

Although the governing Socialists Party (PSOE) won the most seats at Sunday's elections, the political deadlock continues with a deeply-fragmented scenario, in which the far-right Vox party is in a strong position while the centre has become irrelevant.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us