Russia recognizes new Libyan authorities

MOSCOW, September 2. (Itar-Tass) — Russia recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council as legal. Thus, it became the 73d member-country of the United Nations to recognize Libya’s new authorities. France was the first country to make such a statement. On Thursday, Paris hosted a Friends of Libya conference that discussed the country’s future. Analysts wonder whether contracts of Russian companies in Libya will remain valid as a result of the after-war settlement in Libya.

France, Britain and Italy, who played a key role in overthrowing the Muammar Gaddafi regime set the tone of the conference, the Kommersant business daily wrote. For this reason they hope to get the lion’s share of future contracts in oil-rich Libya. Russia is first of all concerned over the validity of the earlier signed agreements with Tripoli. Experts forecast that not the new Libyan authorities, but their western allies will decide their future. However, Russia expresses strong concerns not over the conclusion of new deals, but over the implementation of those concluded earlier. Moscow does not keep this secret. “We proceed from the assumption that the treaties, signed by the Russian Federation and Libya, as well as other mutual commitments, will remain in effect in relations between the two countries and will be unfailingly observed,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on recognition of Libya’s Transitional National Council.

However, experts believe that Moscow should discuss this issue not with the new Libyan authorities. “Those countries that helped the Transitional Council to come to power will take economic decisions,” the editor-in-chief of the Russian in Global Affairs journal, Fyodor Lukyanov, told Kommersant. He believes that Russia should not count on Libya’s implementation of the earlier signed agreements. “At its best western companies will invite Russian ones in the future as partners,” the expert said. “The situation is simple: those who carried out the war, will get the trophies. Britain, France and Italy put at risk their money, reputation and other things not to share the Libyan market, including resources, with companies of those countries that did not take part in the military operation.”

The president of the Institute of the Middle East Studies, Yevgeny Satanovsky, said in turn the victory of the Libyan opposition became possible only thanks to Russia that in March did not veto the resolution on Libya at the UN Security Council. The expert expressed confidence that the Libyan issue is not the last one where the West needs Russia’s support, while Moscow’s position in the future will depend on behaviour of European and American partners.

The change of the ruling regime in Libya threatens Russia with a multibillion economic damage, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. As it is known Russia’s multibillion investments in Libya will be at risk, if the new authorities in Tripoli recollect Russia’s friendship with the country’s toppled leader. Until recently Moscow conducted a dialogue both with Libyan rebels and Gaddafi’s emissaries without making haste to recognize that the power in that Arab country had already changed. President Dmitry Medvedev described such position on Libya as “cautious.”

The Russian president’s special envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, took part in discussions on the political landscape in new Libya and the ways towards its restoration after the war. On the eve of his departure to Paris he told the daily that according to his information, the Transitional National Council is studying contracts concluded with the Muammar Gaddafi regime, including those with Russia, on the subject of their transparency.

Libya’s rebels promised to observe the earlier signed contracts, the daily wrote. “The issue of annulling any contracts is not on the agenda,” said Ahmed Jehani, the head of the Transitional National Council’s reconstruction effort. At the same time a spokesman for Libya’s oil company Agoco, Abdeljalil Mayouf, made it clear that such partners as Gazpromneft and Tatneft operating in Libya may face problems.

The deputy director general of the Centre for Political Technologies, Alexei Markin, cited by the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, believes that recognition of Libya’s new authorities is a rather logic step. “Russia has its interests in Libya. Much has been said about this, mainly by those who thought that it is necessary to stake on Gaddafi. Indeed, the longer Russia did not recognize the Transitional National Council, the lesser chances she had to agree with the new authorities on the earlier concluded contracts,” he said.

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