Statement by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the occasion of the Afrikaverein Libya Dinner

29.09.2011 - Speech

Mr. Meyer-Ewert,
Distinguished guests and representatives of the new
Mr Ambassador,
Representatives of German companies,
Members and friends of the Afrikaverein,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am particularly delighted to be with you tonight and I am very grateful that the Afrikaverein has brought German and Libyan decision-makers from politics and business together. Our meeting is dedicated to a prosperous future for Libya and it sends a clear signal that we stand by the side of the new Libya.

The work of the Transitional National Council in the past six months deserves our respect and support. We have recognized the National Transitional Council as the governing authority of Libya, representing the people of Libya. We have noted that from the outset the National Transitional Council has been guided by a democratic vision for Libya. We are committed to supporting you wherever YOU feel that such support may be helpful. We intend to assist and not to interfere. We believe that Libyan ownership of the country’s political and economic reconstruction is crucial.

I understand that many amongst us tonight work in the medical field. We are here to support your efforts to bring an end to the suffering of so many people. Upon the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office we have established a working group on medical assistance to Libya. Together with various ministries and business associations especially from the German health sector we are preparing measures to the benefit of Libyans injured during the conflict.

We are ready to promote better living conditions, stability, democracy and a prosperous future for Libya.

There is a risk that fundamentalism might spread instead of democracy. It is in our shared interest to prevent that from happening. But democratization will only succeed if people can see and feel the benefits for themselves: more freedom and more opportunities for personal prosperity and well-being. So politics and business will have to work hand in hand to make the new Libya a better place.

German politics and German business are united in our desire to place our know-how at your disposal. German companies have an excellent reputation in the world. We are reliable. That is the reputation Germans have – in politics and in business. We do not enter countries to make short-term investments and extract profits. German business philosophy and German political philosophy is to be involved in countries in the long run. We are interested in partnerships on equal terms. Germany is a partner of the new Libya.

The German Government stands united in its efforts. Together with my colleague, Minister Dirk Niebel, I travelled to Benghazi in June. We opened our representative office with the new Libyan leadership. A few weeks later, the Afrikaverein took a delegation of some 40 German business people to Libya, which was also supported by our Foreign Office and by our Ministry of Economics and Technology.

I have welcomed the objectives of the Ten-Point Action Plan put forward by my colleague and Minister of Economics, Dr Phillip Rösler. We will work hard to contribute to its implementation:

- We will accelerate the lifting of sanctions. The money frozen in Germany and elsewhere belongs to the Libyan people. 1 Billion Euro of frozen assets in Germany have been made available to the National Transitional Council with the agreement of the United Nations sanctions committee.

- We have spent almost 15 million euro on humanitarian assistance.

- We have provided the National Transitional Council with a credit of 100 million euro for humanitarian and civil needs.

- We have reopened our Embassy in Tripoli and are one of the few countries to already have an Ambassador in the capital.

- We are also taking care of Libyan students in Germany – they have to be able to finish their studies in order to be ready to contribute to reconstruction and development in their home country.

In about two weeks’ time, Minister Rösler plans to visit Libya to strengthen our bilateral economic and commercial ties and to make German technological, administrative and management know-how available to Libya.

We are committed to working for a bright future for Libya – both bilaterally and multilaterally. Last week the Deauville Partners met in New York. We agreed to support our partner countries in North Africa by securing financial stability and promoting structural economic change that supports the democratic transformation process.

I am confident that today’s meeting is another step towards a fruitful and prospering partnership between Germany and the new Libya. And I am particularly grateful to each and everyone who is already contributing today and who will be contributing to this partnership in the future.

Unfortunately, I have to leave you now. But my experts from the Federal Foreign Office will be at your disposal for the rest of the evening.

Thank you for your attention.

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