Danish foreign minister, Villy Søvndal.. paid a brief but fruitful visit to Libya
On Monday, Denmark's foreign minister, Villy Søvndal inaugurated his country's new embassy in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. It was his main activity during a brief 12-hour visit to the country where he also met with members of the Libyan interim government.
In separate talks with the National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, and interim prime minister Abdurrahim el-Keeb, Mr Søvndal, who has only been running his country's foreign affairs since October, pledged his country's support to Libya and expressed his government's desire to strengthen bilateral relations with the new Libya as it rebuilds after over four decades of dictatorial rule.
He also expressed his desire to use the six months of Denmark's current position as rotting president of the European Union, EU, and therefore in a position to direct the foreign policy of the 27-member organisation to push forward initiatives by both the EU and Libya to establish a free trade agreement between them.
Denmark, along with other EU member states was among the first nations to join the NATO-led coalition that provided protection to the Libyan people and gave the support Libya needed to defend the Libyan people from the aggressive Gaddafi forces in order to facilitate and hasten the overthrow of the former regime in the eight-month long uprising.
In Libya Denmark also helps victims of torture through ‘The Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims’ in Denmark. Is there with media support through ‘International Media Support’, and also helps to remove land mines, a field in which it has a lot of expertise.
Mr Søvndal, who has been quoted saying that Libya is a rich country, where the need is not money but expertise, is now back in Denmark after what has been described as a fruitfuil visit to Libya, praised the attitude and the work of the new Libyan leaders in meeting the new challenges it is facing.
He also expressed his hope that his country, which is also currently involved with de-mining groups in Libya and supporting the rehabilitation of torture victims, could play a role in Libya's near and far future and even increase its trade partnerships with future Libyan governments and industrialists.
During his visit Søvndal also met Libya's minister for labour, Mustafa Rujbani and held talks with the head of the UN Special Mission, UNSMIL, in Libya, Ian Martin.
Søvndal, who has been Denmark’s foreign minister for just four months, had earlier said he believed that it showed great promise that people who have been kept in dictatorships suddenly throw them away.
He added that it started in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, to Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, and to a lesser degree to Kuwait. He said there had almost been a wildfire-like desire to be allowed to decide ones own future in a democratic framework. He felt it showed great promise.