Since the revolution of 17 February 2011, the German Government has been supporting the country in its transition to democracy. Libya faced a fresh start following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The previous 42 years of dictatorship had been marked by repression, a lack of institutional transparency and international isolation. The fighting in 2011 left Libyan society deeply scarred. Repeated clashes, most recently between armed groups from the eastern and western parts of the country between April 2019 and June 2020, further deepened social divides and polarised the political landscape.
In September 2019, the German Government launched an international diplomatic initiative in the form of the Berlin Process with a view to supporting United Nations peace efforts. This ultimately led to the Berlin Conference on Libya in January 2020. Working together with the international community (the European Union and the United Nations), Germany is assisting Libya with the peace process, as well as helping it rebuild democratic institutions and implement political and economic reforms.
Since the Berlin Conference held on 19 January 2020, considerable progress has been made on the stabilisation process. A ceasefire agreement was signed on 23 October 2020. The agreement provides for a withdrawal of military forces and heavy weapons from central Libya, the demobilisation of armed groups and the complete departure of foreign fighters and mercenaries within 90 days.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum created at the Berlin Conference elected the interim unity government led by Prime Minister Dbeibah on 5 February 2021; the government was subsequently endorsed by the Libyan House of Representatives. This is the first peaceful transfer of power in Libya since 2012. After seven years of division, this clears the way for a reunification of Libyan institutions.
Since July 2014, the German Embassy in Tripoli has been relocated to Tunis for security reasons.
The difficult security situation and the unsettled political circumstances in recent years have taken a heavy toll on Libya’s economy. In the medium to long term, however, Libya is an interesting market for German companies – although this will require patience and a presence in the country. In addition to the security situation, current risks include legal uncertainty, dysfunctional state institutions and a strictly regulated labour market.
Stabilisation and mediation
Germany supports the mediation efforts of the UN Mission UNSMIL (United Nations Support Mission in Libya). The projects that are being promoted include ones to prevent the proliferation of weapons, as well ones to strengthen regional structures, civil society, the healthcare sector and the media. Another focus is improving the situation of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants. Priorities here, alongside protecting migrants who are in the country, include helping them return voluntarily to their countries of origin and stabilising host communities along migration routes.