Çağlayan was speaking at a committee meeting Monday about the week-long uprising in Libya which has left over 200 hundred dead as protesters, demanding the ousting of longtime ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, clashed with police. Çağlayan’s statement comes on the heels of reports that some Turkish-owned businesses have suffered damage from the ongoing unrest in Libya as violence has spread to the capital Tripoli. Libya is home to a Turkish community of several thousand people, consisting mostly of businessmen and workers employed in the construction sector, along with their families.
Construction sites owned by several Turkish firms in the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Darnah had been looted during the anti-government protests and the belongings of Turkish citizens have also been looted by a group of demonstrators. Reuters quoted Dilek Angin, a Turkish citizen living in Libya, on Monday as saying workers in Libya had taken construction machinery, vehicles and electronic goods from their worksites in the belief that they would not be paid.
Noting that the attacks have only been directed at property, the minister said the government believes Libyan authorities will ensure the safety of Turkish citizens in the country. “We have discussed the current situation with our Libyan counterparts,” he added. He said the attacks occurred only at worksites and protesters had damaged equipment at the sites. Çağlayan said 14 Turkish-owned construction projects have suffered losses.
The largest share of Turkish investments in Libya is in the construction sector. Turkish construction companies have projects in Libya worth $23 billion. A large majority of these projects, worth $15 billion, are still under way.
The minister said Turkish companies should not be distressed about the property damage since the agreement between Turkey and Libya guarantees compensation for losses in the event of unrest similar to that currently being experienced in the country.
Making reference to a previous attempt by some Libyans to illegally inhabit newly finished apartments belonging to Turkish companies, the minister said the Libyan government had compensated them for the losses incurred in that event. “This is proof that the Libyan authorities will again compensate Turkish companies for damages incurred,” Çağlayan said, adding that companies should keep detailed records of their losses and present these in a report to Libyan officials. “The amount of loss will be calculated and paid back to the Turkish companies who have suffered damage.”