On Wednesday, Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba thanked German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas for his invitation to participate in the Berlin Conference’s second edition. He praised their pioneering role in the success of the first Berlin Conference in 2020.
In his speech, Dbaiba said: “how different today is from yesterday, on 19 January 2020, the conferees in this hall launched a package of recommendations and pledges, at a time when war was still the master of the situation, when the sound of the cannon was louder than the sound of dialogue, and the blood of the Libyans was still being shed.”
“After a year and a half, I now stand in this room entrusted by the Libyans – representing one government – burdened with the tasks entrusted to us, working on the unity and sovereignty of my country in very difficult circumstances, and at a time that requires us to take decisive and historical positions. Today we stand at a stage that is still critical but full of hope – now we can say with one voice: There is no return to war, no to tampering with Libya’s wealth, and no to disagreement outside the dialogue table. Today I stand before you so that we can review together the pledges of the first Berlin Conference, and the achievements so far which are already many, but also insufficient. Dangers still threaten us and our path for the actual unity and stability of our country, and for it to be a democratic, sovereign, and effective state internationally and regionally,” he added.
Dbaiba noted that after the first Conference, Libya was able to achieve success with the help of the international community and the positive role of the United Nations, starting with Ghassan Salameh, to the distinguished effort of Stephanie Williams, and to the constructive relationship that is now being completed with Jan Kubis. All related to a permanent cessation of the war, an end to the possibility of partition, the fragmentation and unification of the executive authority, the re-establishment of the functioning of the institutions (especially the Parliament), the cessation of economic difficulties, and the closure of oil exports, which resulted in collective punishment of all Libyans without exception.
“We are preparing to join the east and west by opening the Coastal Road linking them, and we will hold a cabinet meeting from Benghazi, and the cities of the south in the next few weeks,” he claimed.
The PM added: “Today we stand before the Libyan people with precious honesty, which is to return the decision to the people by allowing them to go to the elections on their specified date, in compliance with the outcomes of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), and its roadmap. I will spare no effort in working to overcome all obstacles, to reach this date in an appropriate atmosphere that allows the people to choose who represents them. I am here today to ask the friends of Libya for help to prepare the march towards 24 December, and to overcome the common security obstacles represented, including combating terrorism and cross-border crimes, limiting the phenomenon of illegal immigration, and the policies and practices of some international parties which have led to the deepening of the crises in Libya control. I am confident of the sincerity of intentions among the participants regarding Libya. From this platform, I welcome all communication, openness and rapprochement between the gathered countries.”
He added, “now, we are six months away from the expected elections, and unfortunately, the internal dispute and narrow interests are still hindering the process, and despite the improvement that appear in the work of the institutions, the budget is still not approved by the Parliament, and the sovereign positions have not yet been unified.”
The PM indicated that the titles of the “Stability of Libya” initiative will be presented in the meeting. These include:
• The first title: Security:
“Despite the progress in unifying security institutions, more work must be done in this field. In order to unify the military institution, there are security concerns about the political process based on direct armed control with the presence of mercenaries in some areas, the presence of military forces with political dimensions in several regions, and the presence of some terrorist elements. We have started preparing a comprehensive security plan to secure the elections. We are awaiting the issuance of the expected election law for its implementation, and your assistance in order to withdraw mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libyan territory, and implementing Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 2570 and 2571.”
• The second title: Legal Process:
Dbaiba explained that this process is outside the powers of the government, but it is the basis on which the elections are to be built. “Unfortunately, we have not yet seen the necessary seriousness from the legislative bodies to move forward in this path. Therefore, we call on all those concerned to carry out their duties in order to reach the constitutional base and the upcoming election law.”
The third title: National Reconciliation
“We started working on this file as soon as the government took over its duties. I congratulate the work that the Presidential Council is doing in this field. We know that national reconciliation is a process and not an event, and it should not be used as a condition of verification. The elections, rather, should be the title of the next stage and the gateway to political action in Libya, and based on this principle. I stress the necessity of accelerating the return of the displaced inside and outside Libya to their homes, reparation for damage, and allowing everyone to effectively participate in the political process without any internal or external exclusion to this participation.
• The fourth title: Economic Stability
“We know that the government’s priorities lie in resolving the immediate and urgent issues related to the security and stability of Libyans, but we also know that everything the government does is what will determine the future. Therefore, we must work on the present without neglecting the future, and evade difficult solutions. Accordingly, we found it necessary to start addressing the equitable distribution of imports, increasing the level of production and providing services across all parts of Libya, and reduce the impact of centralization on the lives of Libyans. In the first three months, we were able to provide relative stability for services, and to resume maintenance programs for some facilities, in addition to facilitating the access to liquidity for citizens, as well as combating the COVID-19 pandemic and providing vaccines as much as possible.”
As for the issue of stalled projects, Dbaiba explained: “We have identified development projects that have high completion rates, in a fair way that covers all areas in Libya (such as hospitals, schools, university vehicles and roads), while encouraging the state’s control over public debt, increasing the Central Bank of Libya’s (CBL) reserves of hard currency, laying the foundations for investment, through effective and rapid support to the Ministry of Oil and its institutions, securing the maintenance of the man-made river, protecting Libyan assets, and working to benefit from productive investments.”
“These four axes cover briefly the frameworks that cannot be bypassed, and which must be worked on for the stability of Libya, and to result in free, fair, and transparent elections. There is no doubt that all of these issues are necessary, needing available and frozen financial capabilities, and an unapproved ready budget. I say it frankly to the concerned Libyan parties: stop the policy of absurdity and hidden obstruction, stop the policy of using benefits as a hostage, and allow people to work. We are going while Libya remains. Assume your historical responsibility so that the people and history may have mercy on you. I say to those gathered here: abide by your commitments, be on time, and help us deter obstructionists in a clear, consultative and convincing manner. To our friends gathered today, I say: We need you to be convinced that a united and healthy Libya is your best friend. It will be a partner in Europe, a beating heart in the Arab world, a natural friend of the Mediterranean and Islamic countries, and an established and authentic state in the African Union. A historical and continuous strategist, a historical brother to historical friends throughout the years, and more recent friends. We want your support to reach the elections, and to fortify the political, security, social and economic tracks. Until then, we say to you: We are not blind, and that the international community must listen earnestly and sympathetically to the Libyan demands, respect Libya’s internal sovereignty, and participate in helping Libya
reach safety,” he concluded.