BRUSSELS, June 24 (KUNA) - Leaders of the 27-member European Union Friday discussed the situation in North Africa and the Middle East and voiced concern over developments in Yemen, Syria, Gaza and Bahrain, and reiterated calls on Muammar Gaddafi of Libya to leave. The leaders in a joint statement at the end of their 2-day summit here this afternoon said they remain concerned about the situation in Yemen and urged all parties to stop violence, respect human rights and abide by a permanent cease-fire. and welcomeD the commitment of the Vice President to this end. The statement reiterated "the urgency of an orderly and inclusive transition in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative. " Calling on Gaddafi to quit, the statement noted that Libya's democratic transformation remains a primary interest of the European Union. They stressed the essential role played by the Transitional National Council (TNC) in this process as a representative of the aspirations of the Libyan people.
The EU leaders condemned " in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens. " They noted with "grave concern reports of Syrian military activity close to the Turkish border at Khirbet al-Jouz " and called for maximum restraint. "By choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms, the regime is calling its legitimacy into question," said the statement and called on the UN Security Council to assume its responsibility and give adequate response to the situation in Syria.
The statement noted that the situation in Gaza remains of concern. "Humanitarian assistance delivered to the population in Gaza should be in accordance with the relevant framework and decisions of the UN and should take care not to endanger human lives," it said.
The EU leaders welcomed the steps which are currently being taken towards a democratic transformation in the region, particularly in Egypt and in Tunisia.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy told a press conference after the summit that the EU intends to continue to play a key role in the historical developments which are taking place in Northern Africa and the Middle East. "Without Europe, there would have been an Arab Spring, but without us there will be no Arab summer," he said. The Arab spring , said Van Rompuy, is also an invitation to redouble our efforts for progress on the Middle East Peace Process. "Only the resumption of direct negotiations could provide a realistic chance of improving the situation on the ground, thus leading to a lasting and comprehensive solution," he said.
The EU leaders praised the announcement of the main elements of the new Constitution in Morocco, and welcomed the renewed commitment to political reforms, including a review of the Constitution, in Jordan.
The EU leaders took a positive note of the lifting of the state of emergency and planned constitutional reform in Algeria. On his part, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the joint press conference that the situation in the different countries is very diverse with worrying development in Libya, Syria and Yemen with more positive signs from Morocco and Jordan. "We need to work together. I visited Tunisia in May and I will visit Egypt next month to engage with the current authorities to see what more we can do to help",he said. On Croatia the summit agreed that the EU membership negotiations should be concluded by the end of June 2011 Migration was another issue on today's agenda. Noting the difficult situation currently faced by some EU Member States, the statement reaffirmed the need for genuine and practical solidarity towards the member states most affected by migratory flows. The EU will continue to provide the necessary operational and financial support as the situation evolves, noted the statement.