Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Energy at heart of Turkey-Libya ties

With the positive developmen­ts following the recent high-level gathering between Ankara and Tripoli, Turkish companies are preparing to lend their expertise in the energy, health care and constructi­on sectors in Libya

- ISTANBUL - DAILY SABAH

LAST WEEK’S visit by the head of Libya’s interim government has provided new opportunit­ies for Turkish businesses in the oil-rich North African nation.

Libya looks to primarily work with Turkey on projects in the energy, health care and constructi­on sectors, according to Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) Chair Nail Olpak.

Turkish companies will also undertake multiple projects involving not only power plants but electricit­y distributi­on, Olpak told Anadolu Agency (AA) yesterday.

The developmen­ts come in the wake of Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s two-day official visit to Ankara this week, his first since taking office last month. Accompanie­d by large delegation­s, Dbeibah and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held broad talks and negotiatio­ns on ways to further strengthen bilateral relations. The series of meetings included discussion­s over concrete steps to improve investment­s, bilateral trade and economic relations.

Erdoğan and Dbeibah oversaw the signing of five agreements, which included the constructi­on of electricit­y plants in Libya.

The two countries also agreed to take steps to facilitate the return of Turkish companies to complete stalled projects in the oilrich North African nation, Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan pledged support for Libya’s unity and its reconstruc­tion. He said Turkey would provide 150,000 coronaviru­s vaccine doses to help the North African country battle the outbreak as well as manage a hospital in Tripoli.

Libya’s interim government, which took power last month, is meant to bring together a country that has been torn apart by civil war for nearly a decade and steer it through a general election on Dec. 24.

Libya has been through a rocky decade, Olpak said, but added that the current peace process is promising.

“The fact that the prime minister came with a very large delegation is a sign of the value given to relations with Turkey,” he stressed. Turkish businesses also welcomed Dbeibah’s remarks following meetings with Erdoğan and other top officials, as he touted boosting ties with Turkey to set an example of what “the relationsh­ip with Libya should be.”

on the outcome of Tuesday’s Turkey-Libya hybrid roundtable meeting, Olpak said the prime minister’s approach was pragmatic as “he is also from the business world.”

“Dbeibah answered all the questions from the businesspe­ople and dealt with their problems one by one,” he said.

The meeting also covered opening a Libyan Embassy in the capital Ankara and a Turkish Consulate in Benghazi, northeaste­rn Libya, as well as enabling visa-free visits for Turkish nationals and the signing a free trade pact between the two countries, said Olpak.

“The prime minister wants to take prompt action on these issues,” he stressed.

LIBYA’S CHOICE

As some projects by Turkish firms were interrupte­d by the disorder in Libya, particular­ly constructi­on projects, Olpak said the Libyan government is ready to help facilitate their completion and encourage new ventures.

The two countries last year signed a memorandum of understand­ing (MoU) allowing Turkish developers to finish their incomplete business projects.

“Libya prefers to work with Turkish businesspe­ople for its critical new projects, as it has good experience with us,” he stressed.

A similar Turkish-Libyan meeting, on a sectoral basis, will be held in Libya in May after Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said Olpak.

Highlighti­ng that last year, the trade volume between the two countries topped $3 billion (TL 24.36 billion), Olpak said investment­s in Libya’s energy sector should be considered as well as constructi­on.

“Libya has an energy shortage. This was one of the important topics discussed during the roundtable meeting,” he said, adding that the country has serious oil-related needs, including refineries that Turkish businesses should invest in.

Following a meeting with his Libyan counterpar­t, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said the sides decided to further develop cooperatio­n, especially in oil and natural gas.

“Let’s not see the undergroun­d resources not on the agenda in Libya as oil alone,” Olpak underlined.

WARM SUPPORT

Noting that the Turkish business world sees the rewards of its support and warm approach towards Libya, Olpak said there are more deals in the works, in addition to the five agreements signed in Ankara on Monday to boost cooperatio­n in the field of media, constructi­on and power plants.

“Not only power plant constructi­on but also electricit­y distributi­on is on our agenda, as Libya is having problems with this,” Olpak explained.

He highlighte­d that the meeting also addressed cooperatio­n in the health care sector, saying: “Libya’s health minister will continue negotiatio­ns with Turkish companies for both hospital constructi­on and management.”

Olpak added that the two sides wrapped up their meeting with “very positive feelings.”

On Monday, after talks with highlevel Libyan officials, Turkish leaders underlined the importance of continued bilateral cooperatio­n, as well as the return of Turkish businesses to Libya as the country regains stability.

Selected through a United Nationsled process, Libya’s new interim government, the Government of National Unity (GNU), was sworn in on March 15 from two rival political groups that had ruled eastern and western regions, completing a smooth transition of power after a decade of violent chaos.

Ankara welcomed the appointmen­t of the new government and vowed it would continue to provide all manners of support to ensure security, peace and prosperity in the North African nation.

Turkey had backed the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against the eastern-based forces of putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, which was supported by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France.

Libyans hope that the new process will end years of civil war that have engulfed the country since the ousting and killing of strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

In 2019, Ankara signed a maritime delimitati­on agreement with the GNA in the Eastern Mediterran­ean, a deal that provided a legal framework to prevent any fait accompli by regional states, and a military cooperatio­n accord.

Greece, which opposes the maritime agreement between Tripoli and Ankara, called for the accord to be canceled, as it reopened its embassy in Libya after seven years.

In response, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement in 2020, designatin­g an exclusive economic zone in the Eastern Mediterran­ean, which Turkey has said infringes its own continenta­l shelf, and which overlaps with the maritime zones it agreed on with Libya.

Dbeibah has said economic deals with Turkey should remain in place.

Erdoğan Monday said the two countries were committed to the 2019 delimitati­on deal. Dbeibah said agreements between the two countries, including the maritime agreement, are based on a valid framework.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis Wednesday said Greece and Libya have agreed to hold talks to mark out their maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterran­ean, following a meeting with Libyan Presidenti­al Council President Mohammad Younes Menfi.

On the other hand, Libya’s Presidenti­al Council spokespers­on later in the day said that the council has no authority to make internatio­nal deals, adding that the authority belongs to the government led by Dbeibah.

 ??  ?? Children play in the old city, which is undergoing infrastruc­ture rehabilita­tion work, Tripoli, Libya, March 23, 2021.
Children play in the old city, which is undergoing infrastruc­ture rehabilita­tion work, Tripoli, Libya, March 23, 2021.

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