Libya to play 'fair game' with AU - Abdulaziz

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The willingness shown by the new Libya to ensure the continuity of its existing relationships is accompanied by the need to affirm its sovereignty, as much as it respects the sovereignty of the others.

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz, in an exclusive interview granted to PANA, strongly emphasizes this when it comes to the treaties linking countries

Thus, concerning the African Investment Bank whose headquarters Tripoli had promised to host, Dr Abdulaziz is formal: "Our relation with Africa will be reviewed very deeply. The promise that 9ousted leader Mouammar) Kadhafi made is completed by the decision that we have at the moment. Perhaps there are some personal ideas on how to move things forward. Now we
are dealing institutionally, we are not doing individual deals,” he said.

“We have to give a new vision, a new impetus. I know he (Kadhafi) promised that he would be investing in this and that. Our economic situation at the moment does not really permit, for the next one or two years, to be able to invest much in this particular project.”

A very diplomatic way of rejecting the offer, while warning the African leaders against the reckoning that his answer may allow.

“You know, even our African brothers will not disengage because Kadhafi’s promises on certain things are now withdrawn. But I think it should be a fair game between us and the African Union.”

This commitment to always refer to the texts in force also characterizes the position of the new Libyan authorities when it comes to illegal migration that made the Libyan soil both a transit and host country.

It should be recalled that the former Libyan leader Mouammar Kadhafi had taken advantage of this intricate issue in his singular fight against Europe, accused of having plundered the resources of Africa that the African migrants had the right to go and recover over there.

“We have the international Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocols against  the Smuggling of Migrants.
Therefore, we are going to meet those obligations vis-à-vis this Convention and Protocols, at the legislative level and at the correctional level,” said Dr Abdulaziz.

He said “during the war, there were some people who were pushing illegal migrants from
Africa to cross to Europe”, a phenomenon he called “inhuman, unacceptable and similar to a disengagement of Libya from its obligations vis-à-vis this Convention”.

“For us now the point is to work with the International Organization for Migration, and to see how we can control this migration, particularly through border control. We do have information that a number of illegal migrants are crossing to Libya at some borders.
We have information that this is continuing. I think we should prevent this illegal migration, and I think we should also have our own internal Law that governs workers, instead of having illegal
migrants who shall be exploited by organized crime and who at the same time might move on to Europe.”

Highlighting several cases of trafficking of illegal migrants, as well as the exploitation of organised crime through the trafficking of human beings, Dr Abdulaziz justified the previously mentioned measures, arguing that “for us, it is not in order to seal our borders; it is a matter of paying attention to our borders, to have a minimum control on  illegal migration”.

In the same way Libya makes it a sense of honour to respect its obligations relating to the legal instruments it has ratified, stating that “our country denounces the fact of signing treaties for political reasons and without being able to implement them”.

The Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC), offers the most illustrative example to the Libyan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs - whose country did not sign it - to draw attention on the attitude to be observed with regard to this Statute.

”We are not party to the International Criminal Court. I mean, it is more difficult at this moment, because if we are going to be party to this Statute, we have to be very, very careful in terms of its
implications. From the ministry of Foreign Affairs' point of view, unless you understand that you are able to deliver, in terms of implications vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court, don’t join
it. When you enter this commitment, it is not for making the propaganda that you are party to the Statute.”

The ball seems to be thrown into the court of the African Union where the implementation of treaties signed by the member States poses serious problems, with only 25 out of 42 treaties having been adopted since the creation in 1963 of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU).

“We should asks ourselves the following question: Are we able to meet our obligation vis-à-vis the Rome Statute or not ? If we are not, we should not do that, particularly at this stage, you know how the situation is at this moment, so it is very voluntary. It will be a big mistake if you jump to say “yes, we are ready to be party to the Statute, and yet you are unable to meet its obligations”.

Therefore, Tripoli has no problems as to the reactions that might result from the official visit to Libya, in early January, by the Sudanese head of State, Omar el-Bashir, who is under an arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"The visit of Mr. Bashir came for two reasons: One, Sudan is a neighbouring country. Number two, the least we can do is to recognize the political and material support that Sudan granted the revolution,” Dr Abdulaziz explained, emphasizing the sovereignty of his country in
this particular case.

“So we are not governed by outside pressure when he comes and visits us. We mean to be frank about that: Nobody can impose on us who we should receive and who we should not. You can complain as much as you want, whether it be the US or any other country, but that falls within our sovereign right, and I think that we have the right to decide who we receive.”

And as though not to give up any part of the independence of his country, and to signify that this would be the case henceforth, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs was more affirmative.

"I think that receiving President Bashir is an indication to you that the decision-making is our right, it is not somebody else’s. And I think you will also see it in the future. We are very open, we are not going to be conservative in our dealings with our friends and neighbours. But at  the end, there is a sovereignty that has to be protected, and in terms of decision-making, it is our decision, it is nobody else’s”.

-0- PANA SSB/MA 28Jan2012

28 january 2012 09:48:59




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