Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Prime Minister of Libya, Mr. Ali Zeidan

  • 27 May. 2013
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  • Last updated: 29 May. 2013 15:46

Mr. Prime Minister, I am very happy to welcome you back to NATO headquarters.

Our meeting today is truly significant.
Libya has come a long way since the start of Operation Unified Protector just over two years ago. And a very long way from over forty years of dictatorship. The courage and determination of the Libyan people in the cause of freedom was an inspiration to us all. We are proud of the role NATO played to protect the Libyan people and fulfill the historic mandate of the United Nations Security Council.

As we know from our own history in Europe, the journey from dictatorship to liberation to democracy is tough. It takes time and much effort. But Libya has already passed some key milestones. We particularly welcome the election of the General National Congress last year, your election as prime minister and the appointment of a new government.

Today, we had an excellent opportunity to exchange views on the current situation in Libya and how to develop our relationship further.

It is important that the new Libya continues to move towards a peaceful, secure and democratic future. We stand ready to work with you and your government to help secure this future.

NATO has expertise in the reform of security and defence sectors, especially when it comes to institutional education and training. And we stand ready to help the Libyan government in these areas, where you need us and where we can add value.

We are also open to develop our political links. At the Chicago summit last year, NATO declared its readiness to welcome Libya as a partner within the Mediterranean Dialogue, if you so wish. That invitation stands.

So Mr. Prime Minister I thank you very much for your visit today. And I am confident we can develop our relationship to help build the new Libya, as a safe and secure country.

ALI ZEIDAN (Libyan Prime Minister): (Interpretation throughout): Mister Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you, very much Mister Secretary General for the great welcome, the warmth of your welcome. Thank you to NATO for the important role it has played in protecting civilians in 2011 as of the beginning of the operation in March until the end of the operation in October. And thank you again for your commitment to withdraw in due time. You have respected all your commitments. And this has been noted. Our experience with NATO is very positive.

I have come to NATO in 2011 to ask for your help in protecting the civilians of my country. And this was made true after decision of the Security Council of the United Nations which mandated NATO to participate.

The operations were very positive. There was great cooperation between different sectors: the youth in Libya who rebelled inside and outside. We have managed to succeed in our operation to reduce the losses due to bombing. And one other important point one should mention is the fact that NATO has allowed us to preserve a good relation with the visit of the Secretary General in Tripoli just after the operations, when we had an interim council.

And today, we come to NATO to express our thanks and gratitude and to confirm the positive relation between us based on respect... respecting sovereignty. Some people doubt. Some people tremble. They think today that there are forces of NATO who intervene in Libya for whatever reason may be. This is political manipulation. Some people are unconscious when they say things like this. NATO came, following a mandate of the UN. When they left, they left following their commitments. So coming is not that easy.

We want to collaborate with NATO in the field of peace, cooperation. We want positive exchanges in the field of security. If we consider that training needs cooperation we will do it.

And we do not want to hide anything. We are working in favour of our state, our country... our young state. We want to cooperate with you because we know there will be no harm to our sovereignty. And all the countries of NATO have supported us; have helped us in different areas through the revolution. And we hope that this cooperation - this positive cooperation - will continue in peace times. We hope that we will exchange experience. Thank you, Mister Secretary General.

And I would like, once again, to thank your country Denmark which has also participated positively in helping the Libyan revolution. And you had welcomed us at the time when we were individuals that had no official responsibility. And you sent your planes to support the bombings in Libya. Thank you to NATO. Thank you to the countries, members, to the employees in NATO for their warm welcome. And Mister Secretary General, I wish you full success in all your activities. And in the name of the State of Libya and the National Congress and the Government I would like to thank you. Thank you very much.

OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): We have one question there. The Libyan News Agency, please introduce yourself and say who the question is addressed to.

Q: Riad Walid (sp?), the Official Libyan Information. I would like to ask a question on the type of support given by NATO to Libya.

ALI ZEIDAN: NATO will give us technical advice in terms of training. So we will have technical support. And we will be helped in training if we need to.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General): May I just add to this that I have today discussed with the prime minister how NATO can help in building the security sector in Libya. We will now explore that further. This request will be forwarded to the North Atlantic Council. And it will be the Council that makes the final decision. But we have had an excellent discussion today as to how NATO can provide as the prime minister said, technical assistance; maybe also provide training activities.

So let me stress, just to avoid any misunderstanding, this is not about deploying NATO troops to Libya. This is about technical assistance upon request of the Libyan Government.

ALI ZEIDAN: I would like to confirm that the Libyan Government and the National Congress if they take a decision, it will be a decision that is clear to all. There will be no dust on such decisions. And it will be the will of the National Congress elected by the Libyan people. And the government will implement the decisions of the National Congress.

What we did today was to ask technical support, technical advice, help in training. This has no combatting role, no role in relation with weapons. And all should understand this very clearly. Thank you very much.

OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much indeed.