Last updated in December 2017
Germany and Libya have had formal bilateral relations since Libya gained independence in 1955. Since the revolution of 17 February 2011, the German Government has been assisting the country in its transition to democracy. Germany’s then Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and then Federal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler visited Libya in 2011 and 2012. Since July 2014, the German Embassy in Tripoli has been temporarily relocated to Tunis for security reasons. On 16 April 2016, Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart at the time, Jean-Marc Ayrault, paid a joint visit to Libya, where they held talks with a number of officials, including Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, to underscore the international community’s willingness to help bring peace and stability to Libya. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel travelled to Tripoli on 8 June 2017. Libyan Prime Minister al-Sarraj has been to Berlin for bilateral talks with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Gabriel.
Over the past several years, the difficult security situation and the unsettled political circumstances in Libya have taken their toll on the country’s economy. As a result, the average income of Libyans has declined dramatically, the national currency has fallen sharply in value and the large budget deficit has eaten away at the country’s foreign currency reserves.
Libya has the potential to become an interesting market for German companies, especially in the energy, infrastructure, medical, education and vocational training sectors. However, that would require patience and a presence in the country. In addition to the security situation, current risks include legal uncertainty, a dysfunctional judicial system and a strongly regulated labour market.
Stabilisation, humanitarian aid and state building
Libya faced a fresh start following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. Forty-two years of dictatorship – marked by repression, a lack of institutional transparency and international isolation – as well as the fighting that led to the fall of Gaddafi had left deep wounds in Libyan society. At the same time, the country had to rebuild its government infrastructure (including its security forces). Working together with the international community (the European Union and the United Nations), Germany offered Libya support in building democratic institutions and implementing political and economic reforms.
The key advisory body in state-building matters is the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). In coordination with UNSMIL and members of the international community, Germany is actively supporting Libya in its efforts to rebuild state structures. It is providing targeted assistance to projects, such as those focused on controlling and disposing of weapons, on building regional structures and on developing health services, media institutions and a civil society as well as those focused on improving the situation of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants.
Stabilisation and mediation
Germany increased its assistance for stabilisation efforts substantially in 2016, to nearly 13 million euros, compared with two million euros in 2015. Assistance continued at this level in 2017. Priority areas include working with the international community to strengthen the unity government’s ability to act; helping to bring about reconciliation between warring factions, including mediation support; and improving the protection of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants. The German Government is also providing one million euros in assistance to help Libya to prepare for elections.
Germany is also assisting with the disposal of mines and ordnance, with measures to ensure the safe storage of weapons and ammunition and with efforts to secure chemical weapons and radioactive sources.
Immediately after the outbreak of fighting in February 2011, Germany provided eight million euros in humanitarian aid to help alleviate the immediate suffering of affected people. In 2015 and 2016, the German Government made available 3.55 million euros and eight million euros, respectively, to support humanitarian relief work carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local organisations. The most urgent humanitarian needs include food, medical care, psychosocial assistance (especially for migrants and internally displaced persons in remote areas) as well as protection for refugees and internally displaced persons.
Germany is also helping Libya to build a civil society. Projects funded by the Federal Foreign Office include the organisation of a major women’s conference attended by participants from all parts of Libya to promote the need for women to play a strong role in the process of drafting a new constitution. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is supporting Libya’s participation in various regional initiatives that focus on strengthening the political participation of young people and marginalised groups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as well as on helping establish the rule of law and ensure respect for human rights. Most of Germany’s political foundations are also carrying out programmes in Libya.
Culture and education
There are approximately 800 Libyan nationals studying at German higher education institutions.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is conducting further education programmes for senior staff of Libyan higher education institutions.
Due to the fragile security situation in Libya, projects between the two countries – such as those focused on preserving historical cultural property and offering German instruction in Libya ‒ are currently suspended.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.