Spain PM backs Libya’s political process, signs economic deals

The two sides also announced the reopening of Spain’s embassy in Tripoli which has been shut since 2014.
Friday 04/06/2021
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) and his Libyan counterpart Abdulhamid Dbeibah speak during a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on June 3, 2021. (AFP)
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) and his Libyan counterpart Abdulhamid Dbeibah speak during a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on June 3, 2021. (AFP)

TRIPOLI--Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Thursday on a visit to Tripoli that Madrid wanted to support Libya’s political process, in the latest trip to the country by a high-level European official.

A flurry of diplomatic activity has broken out since a new transitional unity government was installed earlier this year, following an October ceasefire between rival camps in the country’s east and west.

Libya’s interim executive is charged with organising legislative and presidential elections set for December.

“This is a historic moment for Libya, a great opportunity and Spain wants to be at its side,” Sanchez said during a news conference with interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

Sanchez said Spain wished to support Libya’s election process and announced it would “contribute to the Libyan ceasefire monitoring mechanism to guarantee security and the upholding of peace”.

The two sides also announced the reopening of Spain’s embassy in Tripoli which has been shut since 2014. It follows similar moves by several countries including France and Greece in recent months.

Sanchez said he was pleased to reopen the embassy after Spain “had spent seven years without representation in a Mediterranean country of such importance.” He added that unlike other European consulates, the Spanish consular team will be authorised to expedite visas for Libyans to improve mobility between the two Mediterranean countries.

“I hope today’s visit marks a positive turning point and paves the way for more cooperation in this historical juncture that Libya stands at,” Sanchez told reporters at a joint news conference before presiding over the ceremony of the reopening of the Spanish Embassy .

“It is time for peace. It is time for the Libyan people to have what they have deservedly been desiring during these recent years: security, wellbeing and prosperity,” said Sanchez.

Both Spanish and Libyan premiers said they had signed several memorandums of understanding to boost economic cooperation in various sectors such as health, infrastructure, agriculture, education, livestock and renewable energy.

“We also want to engage in this phase of economic transformation in Libya,” said Sanchez who met several Libyan officials to discuss Spain’s “role in Libya’s reconstruction and development”.

Dbeibah said he wanted to “encourage Spanish businesses operating in Libya, such as Repsol, to expand their activities beyond the hydrocarbons sector”.

Energy giant Repsol constitutes Spain’s main economic presence in oil-rich Libya.

On Tuesday, company officials held a videoconference with Mustafa Sanalla, head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) and discussed ways of “introducing renewable energy in the Libyan oil sector”, an NOC statement said.

Dbeibah announced the “reactivation of a joint committee that has not met since 2008 to restart and update old (bilateral) agreements”.