The international Libya Contact Group consisting of countries that are involved in efforts to stabilize Libya gathered in İstanbul on Thursday to discuss ways of assisting the National Transitional Council (NTC).
They focus on the process of stabilization in the country that is still suffering from a suspended crisis between various oppositional forces and Muammar Gaddafi’s more than 40-year-old regime which is believed to be living through its last moments.
“Turkey’s main agenda for the meeting is to aid the Libyan opposition in unifying themselves and contribute to their cooperation as soon as possible,” a senior diplomat, unnamed in line with state policy, told Today’s Zaman on Wednesday, highlighting that the scattered opposition forces need to be united under the NTC in a way that reflects the whole of Libya.
“Libya needs a new system[of government], as well as a new sense of order after the Gaddafi era, and Turkey is ready to extend its help to do that,” the diplomat further elaborated.
In line with the Turkish efforts to help the NTC step up its efforts to unite the people of Libya, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke from Benghazi on Tuesday after a meeting with the head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, at a press conference where he said that the NATO-led operations would continue “until security is firmly established in Libya,” and that the frozen assets of the country should rapidly be released to aid the Libyans. Although he stated that the will of the people of Libya has finally triumphed, the foreign minister also acknowledged that Libya and its friends have “a long road ahead” before a new system of government and security apparatus can be completely installed in the country after months of uprising and bloodshed that crippled its institutions severely.
In response to concerns from Europe on how financial aid may be provided to the NTC amidst bureaucratic obstacles, Abdel-Jalil stated that “Turkey was able to overcome the obstacles and deliver the aid it had promised to Libya” in a manner that he called “the Turkish method,” referring to the cash delivery of $100 million that Turkey handed over to the NTC officials after the country first promised the aid in early July. Additionally, the country also gave Libya a $100 million loan as well as a projected $100 million in credit, which is to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people in the form of infrastructure, building and repairing and the general process of restoring the country’s institutions.
Also commenting on Turkey’s agenda for the meeting, diplomatic sources told Today’s Zaman on Wednesday that Turkey’s priority was with financial aid to the country, as “it all boils down to money in the end” for Libya, which has not been able to pay for the salaries of the people but has billions of dollars deposited in banks all over Europe which froze Libyan assets as part of financial sanctions targeting Gaddafi’s administration.
“What can be done to aid the NTC in Libya is a matter of urgent concern for us,” the diplomatic sources said, reiterating Davutoğlu’s words that the NATO’s military support was still much needed in the country which is left without a well-organized security system and a huge financial deficit, making it impossible for the oppositional council to pay the Libyans to meet their most basic needs, such as food and medical supplies.
The İstanbul meeting is attended by the member countries of the Contact Group as well as the representatives of NATO, the European Union and the Arab League, which gather for the first time after the oppositional forces reached Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli on Wednesday. Davutoğlu inaugurated the meeting at the political directors’ level. An immediate follow-up meeting for the group most likely to be held in Paris some time next week and will likely be scheduled during the İstanbul session.
Since the NTC declared itself as being the sole authority to speak on behalf of the people of Libya, a large number of countries recognized its official status as an international addressee while many others engaged in dialogue with the council without an official recognition. The council, whose flag is unfurled all around Libya as well as its embassies in many countries signaling the end of the Gaddafi regime, is expected to remain in power until elections are held in the country and a new system of government is established.