BRUSSELS (EJP)---European Union member states are "ready" to impose sanctions on Libya if its bloody repression on demonstrators does not stop at once, the EU said in a statement.
While the EU has already decided to suspend negotiations with Libya on the EU-Libya Framework Agreement and to stop granting export licenses for arms sales to Libya, it is ready to take further measures.
The EU statement stresses that "those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians will be held to account," referring to the death of an estimated 1,000 people in the repression of the demonstrations ordered by Libyan leader Moamar Kadhafi.
On Monday, EU Foreign Ministers called on the Libyan authorities to stop the violence, but didn’t call for sanctions.
'These brutal mass violations of human rights are unacceptable. The will of the people in Libya must be respected and the EU stands by them," said the statement, issued by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after talks with top diplomats from all 27 EU member states.
European Union president Herman Van Rompuy condemned the "horrible" violence by Libyan forces against protesters, insisting the crimes could "not remain without consequences".
"I particularly abhor the violence that is being committed against people who stand for freedom and justice in Libya," he said.
"I have seen horrible crimes that are unacceptable and must not remain without consequences,” he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the "quick adoption" of concrete sanctions "so that all those who are implicated in the current violence know that they have to assume the consequences of their acts."
The proposed measures would include bringing those responsible for the violence to justice, barring their access to EU territory and monitoring their financial transactions, Sarkozy said. He also mentioned the suspension of economic and trade ties with Libya.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also demanded the violence end at once. "Otherwise sanctions are unavoidable," he said.
But Italy has lobbied against the imposition of immediate sanctions, warning that Libya might allow thousands of illegal migrants to cross to European shores in retaliation.
Libya is one of Italy's closest trading partners and a major source of oil and gas for Italy and other EU states.
Another concern among some EU states is the safety of EU citizens living in Libya if sanctions or other measures are enforced too quickly. Up to 10,000 EU citizens are based in Libya and are in the process of being evacuated by air and sea.
In a statement in the White House on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama also made a threat of sanctions and denounced the violence as "outrageous and unacceptable."