Verhofstadt calls for Marshall plan for new Arab democracies

Press release from the European Parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

A major liberal conference took place in Barcelona on "Arab spring one year on". The Conference which gathered together European and Arab leaders, such as Mahmud Jibril from Libya, Ahmad Hariri from Lebanon, Yassin Brahim from Tunisia and Fawaz Tello from Syria, focused on the state of play in several Arab states and the role the EU should play.

"We must reboot the Union for Mediterranean starting by tranforming it into a Union of Mediterranean and by launching a real Marshall plan in support of new democracies in the region", said ALDE Group Leader Guy Verhofstadt. "There is a huge potential for transforming the Mediterranean into a partnership of equals. The EU must grasp this and extend its European economic area to the Mediterranean countries in order to foster the development of a new relationship based on an equal footing."

"We must help the Syrian opposition with all means possible", added Verhofstadt. "The international community should stop talking and start acting. Hundreds of people are dying every week. We want the Friends of Syria finally to create safe zones and humanitarian corridors in Syria. We should also support the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition".

Verhofstadt continued, "The main Arab liberal party leaders have decided to form a political network, the first in the Arab world, in order to rethink together the politics and developments across the Arab world. This network will play a major role in the future of a free and democratic North-Africa and Middle East".

Read the full speech here.

Guy Verhofstadt is the Leader of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament and a former Prime Minister of Belgium.

The Arab spring will be further discussed at Friends of Europe's upcoming European Policy Summit Europe and the Arab Spring: Responding to the changing Arab order.