Libya and the EU: Ashton’s Moment of Truth

February 28, 2011

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution caught everyone by surprise: the country’s stability had been taken for granted in European capitals (less so in European embassies in Tunis), intent on negotiating an upgrade in contractual relations with the regime.

Given the quick developments on the ground leading to the fall of Tunisian leader Ben Ali’s 23-year-long regime, nobody in the West was expected to be firmly in the driver’s seat during the unfolding of the revolutionary events.

The unrest in Egypt triggered stronger shockwaves on both sides of the Atlantic, but the call for assistance was mainly heard in America, whose stakes are arguably higher. Though slightly delayed, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded to the crisis in a consistent manner, upholding the values espoused in the president’s June 2009 Cairo speech and actively supporting the democratic cause of the protesters.

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