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Foreign Secretary William HagueVideo, Global
The Foreign Secretary said that today’s conference is an historic step, describing it as a chance for the world to start to pull together on working towards a stable Libya, and a “very important opportunity for the National Transitional Council to set out their plans for a free democratic and inclusive Libya in the future".
Hello, well I’m on my way today, as is the Prime Minister David Cameron, to the international conference in Paris which President Sarkozy and David Cameron will chair together.
This is a historic step forward in our engagement with Libya. This is about sixty nations and international institutions coming together, a bigger group than in the Contact Group meetings that I’ve been attending over the last six months because it will include countries like Russia which this morning, the 1st of September, recognised the National Transitional Council as the Government of Libya. And so it’s a chance for the world to start to pull together on working towards a stable Libya in the future and normal relations between those countries and the new Government of Libya.
It’s also a very important opportunity for the National Transitional Council, who’ve done a very good job throughout the last six months, to set out their plans to stabilise Libya and their plans hopefully for a free democratic and inclusive Libya in the future.
Now this doesn’t mean it’s all over in Libya. As we speak there are still forces loyal to the remnants of the Qadhafi regime which have tried to fight on, some in the vicinity of Tripoli, others particularly around the coastal city of Sirte, they are still saying that they will continue to fight, although the National Transitional Council have given them several days until the end of Eid, an opportunity to lay down their arms.
So it’s not over, it’s still a difficult and dangerous situation for the people of Libya, but it has moved on tremendously in the last ten days and so now we’re giving all the support we can to that new Government. We worked very hard diplomatically over the last weekend to get UN agreement which we achieved on Tuesday to the unfreezing of the Libyan bank notes which are printed in this country and which have been frozen, about a billion pounds worth of them have been frozen here under the UN sanctions since March. Now we’re able to move those bank notes back to Libya. The Royal Air Force took the first consignment of them yesterday and these will be delivered to the Central Bank of Libya to go in to circulation in Libya which is a cash economy to a greater extent than our economy and it does need those bank notes in circulation.
We’ll also be working with the National Transitional Council on, on stabilising Libya. Good advice on policing, good advice on clearing mines, helping coordination with the United Nations. But this is Libyan led and Libyan owned and that’s a very important point. We’ve faced a lot of legitimate questions over the last six months. Could we pass a UN resolution? Many people thought we couldn’t, but we did. Would it be an unending stalemate? Many people thought it would be, but it wasn’t. Time, as I often pointed out, was always against the Qadhafi regime.
Now the question is will this be another Iraq with chaos, disorder, looting. Well actually this is a different situation from Iraq. We’ve prepared more for the stabilisation. It’s the Libyans themselves who are in charge. The plans are there which they were not in the case of Iraq and so we’ll continue to work with the National Transitional Council to make sure that Libya can have that more stable future and normal relations with the rest of the world.
So we’re making progress. There’s some hard work still to do and I’ll go on from Paris to the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers in Poland on Friday and Saturday. We’ll be looking at the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Syria and how to put more pressure on the regime of President Assad to start to respect some human rights in Syria and stop repressing their people.
These subjects must not be forgotten, even
while we’re so busy with Libya.