Libya Wants Economic Contacts with Bulgaria Revitalized


Libya Wants Economic
Contacts with Bulgaria

Sofia, January 22 (BTA) - Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva conferred Tuesday with Libyan Foreign
Minister Mohamed Taher Siala in Brussels. The two discussed the
preparations for an upcoming visit to Sofia by Libyan Prime
Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Zaharieva's Ministry said in a press release.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov invited Al-Sarraj during a telephone conversation last week and the invitation was accepted
was accepted. Libya's foreign and interior ministers were also included in the invitation.

The chief Libyan diplomat told Zaharieva that contacts should be reinvigorated to their previous level. He said that many Bulgarian companies had done a good job in his country and that Bulgarian workers were very industrious. All stadiums in Libya were built by Bulgarian companies and are still in excellent condition.

Siala thanked the Bulgarian authorities once again for their timely reaction to the case of the tanker "Bdin"/"Badr". Zaharieva reiterated that this is a matter of private law but the Bulgarian Government committed to it so that it would not affect bilateral relations. "We are ready to resolve the matter in a mutually acceptable manner," she said.

The "Badr" was held in Bourgas for 18 months over a compensation claim against Libya filed by Bulgarian company Bulgargeomin. In late December 2018, the tanker was taken over by a private enforcement agent, re-registered, re-flagged, renamed "Bdin" and re-crewed. Tripoli argued that the ship was seized in a pirate-like fashion using fake documents. On January 15 the vessel docked back in the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Bourgas after spending two weeks outside Bulgaria's territorial waters.

Siala stated that no arrest order had been issued for Bulgarian vessels in Libyan territorial waters and that all Bulgarian-flagged ships were welcome to the Libyan ports.

The foreign ministers agreed that a visit to Libya by the Bulgarian Prime Minister would be accompanied by a business forum at which a resumption of Bulgarian exports would be discussed. Siala showed a special interest in Bulgarian lamb meat and yoghurt supplies. "In the past, two planeloads of meat were flown from Bulgaria to Libya every day," he said.

The two chief diplomats also discussed political developments in Libya, including the upcoming general elections in 2019.

Speaking to Bulgarian journalists after her session with her Libyan counterpart, Zaharieva said that the "Bdin"/"Badr" case is not closed. She pointed out that the Libyan side views the action taken by the Bulgarian authorities and the return of the ship to a Bulgarian port as an aspiration to observe national and international law. Siala thanked the Bulgarian institutions for resuming supervision of the vessel. The Deputy PM said that the two discussed the long-standing debts of the Libyan side to Bulgarian companies.

Zaharieva said that the Libyan Foreign Minister called on Bulgarian business to feel assured in Libya. "The relations [between Sofia and Tripoli] were adversely affected by what happened to the nurses, by the crisis in Libya and by the fact that the state has been practically divided for several years now," the Deputy PM commented, replying to a question. She was referring to five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were detained in 1999 and sentenced to death by a Libyan court in Tripoli in December 2006 on charges of intentionally infecting some 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus. The six were released and returned home in July 2007 thanks to the diplomatic efforts of France.

Zaharieva said that if a judgment of a Bulgarian court on the blame of the Libyan investigators who interrogated the Bulgarian medics in custody becomes enforceable, Sofia is ready to facilitate its enforcement.

In early January 2019, nurse Nassya Nenova won a first-instance civil case at the Sofia City Court against nine Libyan investigators. The court ordered the respondents to pay Nenova 5,000 leva in compensation for non-material damage and 26,617 leva for material damage. The same court has dismissed the actions brought by two other nurses, and the remaining two cases filed by the torture victims are pending.

BTA correspondent in Brussels Nikolay Jeliazkov contributed to this story. RY, LI/DD, LG

Source: Sofia