ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Arab Leaders' Mass Stay-away From Euro-Mediterranean Summit

The Euro-Mediterranean Summit aimed at revitalizing ties with Near Eastern and North African neighbors, has started today in Barcelona, Madrid, and was marked by a mass stay-away by Arab leaders.

While all 25 EU leaders were set to attend, only two of the 10 Mediterranean partners -- Turkey and the Palestinian Authority -- were sending their top leaders to the two-day conference.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the longest-serving Arab leader, dropped out on Saturday citing Egypt's tense parliamentary election, in which opposition candidates close to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood made big gains.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was flown to hospital in Paris on Saturday for urgent medical tests following problems in his digestive system, his office said, forcing him to miss the summit originally intended to bring together Arab, Israeli and European leaders for the first time.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pulled out after his coalition collapsed. He quit his Likud party and called an early election. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will attend instead.

Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, had clearly preferred to stay away rather than be lectured by the Europeans on democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.

The presidents of Syria and Lebanon were persuaded to stay away because they are in diplomatic quarantine over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.


Blogger Flying_Monkeys said...

euhhh! what's the word? cowardness? Yeah! I guess so!

11:46 AM  
Blogger Hannibal said...

Well I guess Arab leaders once again missed a great opportunity to strengthen their shaky ties with Europe. The policy of empty chairs is not the right decision!

7:26 PM  

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