, PARIS, Feb 3 – Five EU nations urged an immediate political transition to end violent unrest in Egypt, in a joint statement Thursday by Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
"Only a quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government will make it possible to overcome the challenges Egypt is now facing," said the statement. "That transition process must start now."
Egypt\’s long-standing president Hosni Mubarak is facing mass protests calling for him to quit power, which erupted Wednesday into violent clashes. Medics said that pro-Mubarak forces had fired on protestors.
"We are watching with utmost concern the deteriorating situation in Egypt," read the statement by five of the European Union\’s biggest members.
"The Egyptian people must be able to exercise freely their right to peaceful assembly, and enjoy the full protection of the security forces. Attacks against journalists are completely unacceptable," it added.
Several foreign journalists covering the confrontations between pro- and anti-regime protesters in Cairo have suffered violent attacks, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders and news organisations said.
"We condemn all those who use or encourage violence, which will only aggravate the political crisis in Egypt," said the five-nation statement.
France and Britain had already echoed a call by the United States for an immediate political transition in the country, where Mubarak, 82, has ruled for 29 years.
Mubarak on Tuesday said he would step down when Egypt holds its presidential election in September, but protestors rejected this and called for him to leave immediately.