By Sami Zaptia.
London, 15 June 2020:
Libya discussed the return of Turkish companies to complete their unfinished projects stalled since the 2011 revolution that had toppled the Qaddafi regime.
The subject was one of the issues discussed between Libya’s Minister of Finance, Faraj Bumtari, who is now also Acting Minister of Economy and Industry, and the Turkish Minister of Finance last Friday.
Libya also reported that ‘‘mechanisms to encourage investment and enhance cooperation between the two countries’’ were also discussed.
The revelation of the meeting has two dimensions. Firstly, on the international level, it adds credence to unconfirmed reports that in exchange for its military support against Khalifa Hafter, Turkey had extracted some sort of a secret deal from the internationally recognized Libyan government, whereby it gets priority in receiving debt payments for construction work conducted by Turkish companies.
There are also rumours that Turkish companies may get priority in any new contracts issued. Neither government has made any official announcement on the matter.
It will be recalled that in February 2017 at a meeting in Ankara between Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Libya and Turkey had agreed to form a joint committee that would expedite the return of Turkish companies so they can resume work on stalled projects.
However, to put the meeting and statement into perspective, there have been numerous announcements and attempts over the last 9 years by Libya to get foreign contractors to return to complete their unfinished projects, but the lack of payment of old debts and the lack of security in the country has always prevented this.
Minister Issawi removal from post without explanation – sends rumour mill into overdrive
On a domestic level, the announcement of the meeting is the first official confirmation of the appointment of Bumtari as the new Acting Economy Minister – as well as keeping his post as Finance Minister. His appointment was only mentioned in passing as part of the Turkish meeting announcement.
The appointment has been the worse kept secret in Libya. Serraj’s government has never officially posted the appointment – nor has it provided any reasons for Issawi’s removal. This information vacuum has sent Libya’s rumour mill into overdrive. The unexplained sacking has been interpreted as behind the scenes manoeuvrings for power and positions.
Libya and Turkey set up committee to oversee return of Turkish companies
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