Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, arrived in Benghazi at midday today (13 June) for their one-day visit to Libya.
They will meet for political talks with representatives of the National Transitional Council. Foreign Minister Westerwelle will also open the recently established German Liaison Office in Benghazi. In addition, talks are planned between the two Ministers and representatives of Libyan civil society and representatives from the fact-finding team of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
The visit serves as a way of developing relations with the National Transitional Council and at the same time emphasizing German support for the political process in Libya, especially for the establishment of new state and civil society structures. Whilst he is there, Foreign Minister Westerwelle will also hand over medical supplies for hospitals in Benghazi, Misurata and the Nafusa Mountains.
Before departing from Berlin the Foreign Minister said:
“The people of Libya want a free and peaceful future without Gaddafi. This, too, is our aim. The dictator is standing on the wrong side of history. He must stop the war against his own people immediately, and he must stand down. Our visit to Benghazi demonstrates that Germany is both friend and partner of the democratic forces in the country. We will do all we can to support the National Transitional Council in building a democratic Libya based on the rule of law.”
Germany has so far provided emergency humanitarian aid to the tune of 7.5 million euro.
To mark the occasion of the visit, the Federal Foreign Office will make available an additional one million euro: for medical supplies, including medicines and infusion pumps; for the care of refugees from Tchad via the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is also committed long-term to supporting the Libyan people. Dirk Niebel, the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said before his departure from Berlin:
“We want to contribute to as rapid a stabilization of the situation in Libya as possible. The BMZ will also provide up to 7 million euro for emergency and transitional measures.”
A GIZ fact-finding team is currently in Benghazi charged by the BMZ with the task of clarifying which support measures are required with respect to the refugee situation in Libya. The team will look at the following areas as a matter of urgent priority: the restoration or repair of drinking water and electricity supplies; advice on the provision of public services; care and material support for refugees and internally displaced persons, and psychological support for victims of war.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Development Minister Niebel will then travel on to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In view of the upheaval in the Arab world and stagnation in the Middle East peace process, Foreign Minister Westerwelle will hold political talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. The Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel, will look at key German-Palestinian development cooperation projects in the Gaza Strip.