Put Libyan people first

Updated: 2011-09-02 11:04

(China Daily European Weekly)

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As the Libyan opposition struggles to take full control of the country, all eyes are now on the "Friends of Libya" conference in Paris, where delegates from 60 countries, many with various vested interests, will congregate.

Even while the dust has yet to settle, the haste with which companies from NATO countries are scrambling to grab a share of the dividends of war has caused many to question the true intentions of the military intervention in Libya.

Just days after the capture of the Bab al-Azizya compound in Tripoli officials of European countries were reportedly lining up for talks with the fledgling National Transitional Council to secure lucrative contracts.

"What matters now is the speed," says Antonio De Capoa, chairman of the Italian-Libyan Chamber of Commerce, representing Italian companies eager to return to invest in the country as soon as possible.

British companies are complaining that their French, Italian and German rivals have "stolen a march on Britain" in winning multi-billion pound contracts in Libya. But Chris Sanderson, the director for Control Risks leading business support in Libya, says there are still opportunities for British companies in infrastructure, civil security, oil and gas as well as banking, finance and telecommunications.

"There is clearly an opportunity for UK business to seek to recover commercially some measure of the UK's significant diplomatic and military investment," he says.

But no one has been as straightforward as France's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppe, who says, "When I am asked about the cost of the operation - the ministry of defense speaks of a million euros per day - I point out that it is also an investment in the future."

From multinational oil conglomerates to smaller companies, war-torn Libya is simply a golden opportunity for profit.

But for the Libyan people the first priority is for life to return to normal. What they need is political and social stability, not foreign companies fighting over "lucrative contracts".

Libya is an independent nation-state as well as a member of the UN and Libya's future belongs to its people. Therefore, the UN has the responsibility to take a leading role in the rebuilding process.

Therefore it is good to hear that the UN has prepared a plan for bringing an integrated, politically led mission to Libya and its first aim is to get UN personnel on the ground as quickly as possible, under a robust Security Council mandate.

It should coordinate international efforts in providing humanitarian aid and other support necessary to the Libyan people, while protecting Libya against any foreign interference in its sovereignty.

After the six-month bloodbath, it's time to restore Libya's stability and put a legitimate and inclusive government in place that is fully recognized by the international community.


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