Germany seeks key role in rebuilding Libya

24th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday that Berlin, which came under fire from allies for its reticence during the Libyan uprising, is now ready to play a key role in rebuilding the country.

"Libya needs reconstruction to provide lasting stability for the country," Guido Westerwelle told the daily Passauer Neue Presse.

"Germany has experience and particular expertise in this area. We will stand by Libya with advice and assistance if it wishes."

Berlin offered a 100-million-euro ($144-million) loan to the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) Tuesday in its provisional capital, Benghazi, which Westerwelle said was aimed at "humanitarian and civil assistance".

Westerwelle insisted Germany had done its part in bringing about the apparently imminent end to Kadhafi's 42-year rule, although it refused to take part in military action in support of the rebels.

"We made our contribution to the upheaval using political means," he said. "The sanctions and international isolation played an important role. Kadhafi's regime was cut off from funds to replenish its coffers."

The UN Security Council in February adopted sanctions against Kadhafi and his closest associates, including a freezing of their assets and a travel ban, in response to a bloody crackdown against insurgents.

Westerwelle called Tuesday for a quick UN resolution to unblock the assets as a means of aiding the country's transition. Berlin estimates about 7.3 billion euros in Libyan assets are in Germany.

Germany, which has a non-permanent seat on the council, in March abstained in a vote authorising a Libya mission to shield civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.

It was the only European Union or NATO member to do so and provoked criticism from key allies including the United States and France.

Berlin even withdrew warships, refusing to let them participate in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya.

Gernot Erler, a leading deputy from the Social Democrats, Germany's strongest opposition party, called Westerwelle's remarks "embarrassing" and said Berlin would pay the diplomatic price for staying on the sidelines for a long time to come.

Without NATO military action in Libya, "the whole thing would have gone very differently," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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