Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger (pictured) met for discussions with the Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdul Aziz. The issues discussed were the latest developments in Libya and the region, bilateral relations and also the possibilities that are open to Austria and the European Union for supporting the Libyan transformation process.
Also on the agenda of the meeting were the effects the military intervention in Mali has on the region, the situation in Syria and the efforts the new Libyan government is making to improve the security situation inside the country.
“Libya has made great progress over the past few months towards the political renewal of the country. But there are still significant challenges ahead in the security area, in particular in the monitoring and securing of the southern borders of the country. The EU is offering concrete help for this area in particular. Only when the state has been able to re-establish its monopoly on the use of force, will it be possible to ensure an improvement in the general security situation”, Spindelegger said.
The Vice-Chancellor also gave voice to his expectations in the context of the development of democratic structures and the rule of law in the country. The constitution, which is currently being compiled, will play a decisive role in providing a secure framework and in particular for assuring “an inclusive political process to ensure the reconciliation of all groups in society”.
In the context of bilateral relations, the Vice-Chancellor drew attention to the constantly growing trade between the two countries. Since 2011 alone Austrian exports to Libya have increased by 230% and imports of Libyan oil to Austria have doubled. “There is a very lively interest in this trade on both the Austrian and the Libyan sides. For our part we will continue to spare no effort in providing powerful support for the political and social transformation process in Libya”, Spindelegger said.
Among other examples of this work he cited the Austrian participation in a UN project to clear the country from anti-personnel mines or cluster munitions, the admission of Libyans suffering from wounds to Austrian hospitals, and a special course at the Austrian Diplomatic Academy (DAK) launched for young Libyan diplomats. Spindelegger not only offered to continue this DAK course, but also to organise training schemes to cover the area of law and justice.
In the face of attacks on Sufi shrines and Coptic churches Spindelegger also expressed his concern about the protection of religion minorities and welcomed the Libyan government condemnation of a recent attack on a Coptic church in Benghazi by Libyan government officials.
(Source: Austian Foreign Ministry)