More than 40 European Union and African leaders met in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for the third African Union-European Union Summit. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi chaired the summit, slamming international organizations, including the WTO, World Bank and the United Nations.
Summit participants from both the European Union and the African continent stressed the theme of cooperation during several meetings Tuesday, but it was not clear if either side had the same vision of what that cooperation should look like.
Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi opened the two day summit in the Libyan capital, lashing out at the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, claiming they had done little during their years of existence to help developing countries.
He says developing countries are facing debt payments to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization and he worries that there may be a problem in meeting these obligations. He stresses that poor countries in the developing world, especially those in Africa, do not profit from the WTO, calling it a tool in the modern version of colonialism.
The Libyan leader went on to call for the abolition of the WTO, urging countries that have joined to withdraw and others not to join.
Libyan government TV showed a host of European leaders greeting Mr. Ghadafi, including the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Belgium. Several officials stressed the need to increase trade and urged African states to lower tariffs on European products.
Noticeable was the absence of Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al Bashir. Some summit participants have been urging Sudan to accept the results of an expected referendum, early next year, over the independence of southern Sudan.
Arab Maghreb Union Secretary General Habib Ben Yahia noted he has seen, what he calls, a transformation in the mentality of European states since the advent of the first EU - AU summit in Lisbon.
He argues there has been a transformation from the mentality of hegemony into a mentality of cooperation and a sense of mutual interests, mutual respect, and respect for the honor and independence of developing nations.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker echoed the same theme in an interview with Libyan TV, stressing that Europeans often make the mistake of not talking to people from other continents.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy noted that Africa has great potential, but the issue of poverty must be addressed.