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Opinion: What happens in Libya stays in Libya

Published on August 03, 2007

3 August 2007

Europe welcomed the release of the foreign medics two weeks ago. Bulgaria hailed Cecilia Sarkozy for her involvement in the negotiations, and the sight of the medics arriving home after years of detention and walking out of a plane belonging to the French Republic onto Bulgarian soil is now engraved in Bulgaria’s collective memory.

But in France the negotiations portrayed as a diplomatic victory for Europe are starting to feel like a victory for Libya.

The question is simple. What were the specifics of the deal brokered between the EU, France, England and Libya? But the mystery remains and members of the UMP, President Sarkozy’s party, joined the opposition in asking questions.

Even Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner seems to have been kept in the dark and Socialist Party secretary Francois Holland saw in this another occasion to criticise Sarkozy’s “omni-presidency.”

Officially, no deals were signed during the negotiations. But what about the extradition of one of the suspected terrorist involved in the Lockerbie plane crash and imprisoned in England; the nuclear desalination station to be built in Libya; the guarantee that the Bulgarian nurses will not seek judicial reparation for the torture they endured while held captive in a Libyan prison; the multi-million arms deal supplying EADS built anti-tank missiles to a country ran by a former terrorist?

Legally, the embargo on Libya is over, Kadhafi has renounced terrorism and France is not the first country to ink an arms deal with the country. Russia, England and Italy have all signed such agreements in the past.

Besides, it was France’s previous government which first signed a cooperation agreement with Libya, paving the way for industrial and military contracts. 

But, then, why is the French government unwilling to communicate on the subject? What requires such secrecy?

It’s about time for President Sarkozy to explain the exact nature of France’s new diplomatic relations with Libya and define the extent of France’s cooperation with a country that still frightens the world.

Keep people in the dark long enough and they will imagine the worth. This affair may well be Sarkozy’s first communication blunder.

What do Expatica readers think? Let me know at [email protected]