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memri
August 1, 2008 No.
1985

Libyan Leader Al-Qadhafi's Objection to Mediterranean Union: Libyans Cannot Form a Union with Europeans Who Walk Around Naked

Following are excerpts from a speech by Libyan Leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 9, 2008.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/1809.

To view the MEMRI TV page on Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, visit http://www.memritv.org/subject/en/525.htm.

"We Arabs Are Not United... So How Can We Possibly Unite with Scotland, Benelux, Scandinavia, the Baltic Countries, the Israelis[?]"

Al-Qadhafi: "The word 'union' should be struck [from the name 'Union for the Mediterranean']. This is a very strong word, which has legal interpretations... This word has dangerous legal interpretations.

"What 'union'? Is it conceivable for someone like me, who comes from an Arab country, to say to my people: 'I've made a union for you with Scotland, Finland, Greenland, and Iceland?' They would laugh and say: 'What kind of nonsense is this?' Then I would tell them that although this is an Arab country, I made a union with the so-called 'Israel.' Are all the problems resolved, and all that is left is to make a union with the Israelis? I wish that this problem had been resolved, that the Palestinian refugees had returned, that the Israeli WMDs had been destroyed, and that the Palestinians and the Israelis lived in the State of 'Isratine,' in accordance with my White Book.

"If all this happens, it may be acceptable. But is it conceivable for you to tell your country now that you made a union with the Israelis? What is being proposed is a union. Why are they using the word 'union'? This is a very dangerous word. Before anything, they must erase this word. We Arabs are not united among ourselves, so how can we possibly unite with Scotland, Benelux, Scandinavia, with the Baltic countries, and with the Israelis? Is this conceivable?"

"Do We Share a Culture With Europe?... In Scandinavia, It Is Common to See People Walk Around Naked – That's Their Culture"

"We in the Arab Maghreb Union have been in the freezer for the past 10 years. The Arab Maghreb Union has not convened in the past decade. I am the head of the Arab Maghreb Union, which has been suspended, because we in the Maghreb are not in agreement. We have problems. We have not done anything together, and we are incapable of forming a union. We have been trying for 40 years to form a union between Libya and Egypt, and between Libya and Tunisia, but it did not happen. The Arabs have not formed an Arab union. The Maghreb countries formed a union and stuck it in the freezer. We have not convened for 10 years.

"How can we, with such ease, join a union with the Baltic states, the Israelis, with Greenland, Iceland, and Finland? This is peculiar. What union? I will not advise my people to join such a 'salad.' It would cause us grave problems. North Africa and the Arab countries in the Middle East would be entering an international minefield, extending all the way to the North Pole. Why would I want to get my country into such a mess?

"I have good relations with France, Italy, Europe, the EU, Brussels, I don't need anything else. I don't need a union. How can we possibly be united? We do not share a culture, a religion, a language, or policies. Our disagreements on these issues are as deep as can be. Do we share a culture with Europe? Absolutely not. We each have our own culture. Our cultures are completely different. In Scandinavia, people walk around naked. Can you walk around naked in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, or Libya? They would stone you and throw you into a mental hospital. But in Scandinavia, it is common to see people walk around naked. That's their culture. Is it conceivable for a union to be formed between somebody naked and somebody who considers this to be crazy? This is an example of the differences between our cultures. We do not even share the same religion.

[...]

"The capital [of the union] would be Brussels. If I told my people that Brussels would be the capital, they would stone me. If I told them that I went and formed a union with the Israelis, with the North Pole, and with the whole wide world, and that its capital would be Brussels – would they applaud me? No, they would boo me." [...]

"Is It Conceivable For Us to Say to Europe... We Will Not Give You Oil or Gas, And We Will Not Cooperate With You... Unless You Agree to Contacts with Bin Laden, Hizbullah, Hamas... and to Stop Exerting Pressure on Iran's Nuclear Project?"

"They say: 'Like it or not, you will have to sit down with the Israelis. Israel will discuss things with you, it might be the head of the union, and Israel may invite you to a meeting in Tel Aviv or in occupied Jerusalem.' What is this humiliation for? Why don’t we set conditions in return... Is it conceivable... Of course, this is far-fetched... Is it conceivable for us to say to Europe: We will not cooperate with you, we will not give you oil or gas, and we will not cooperate with you on issues such as immigration or terrorism unless you agree to have contacts with Bin Laden, Hizbullah, and Hamas, and unless you agree to stop exerting pressure on Iran's nuclear project? Is this conceivable?"