Russia hopes new Libyan authorities will honor Gaddafi-era contracts

At an international conference in Paris, where international leaders met to discuss Libya’s political transition, Russia said the Transitional National Council (TNC) should observe formerly agreed contracts without political bias.

Mikhail Margelov, the Russian President’s Envoy for Africa, commented on Thursday that he strong reason to believe – despite various news reports to the opposite effect – the TNC will evaluate contracts signed with Russia by the Gaddafi regime.

“At present the Transitional National Council is analyzing the contracts, signed by the Gaddafi regime, in order to establish whether or not they are transparent. I do not think the new Libyan government will begin with the evaluation of contracts with Russia by political criteria,” Margelov said.

It would be more correct, Margelov added, for the new government to analyze the contracts from a technical and economic perspective.

The Russian diplomat then rebuked “suppositions” forwarded by some media, suggesting that the TNC would not recognize Russia’s contracts made in the Gaddafi-era.

“Suppositions were expressed recently by some mass media that the new Libyan government would not resume trade and economic contracts with Russia,” he said. “When the hostilities between the insurgents and the Gaddafi forces were going on near Benghazi, with alternating success, representatives of the opposition assured me that all the contracts signed by Russia with the previous regime would be observed.”

Russia, along with four other countries, including China and Germany, abstained from voting on military intervention in Libya. Russia harshly criticized the way NATO interpreted the UN mandate, saying the participating members of the alliance exceeded the primary object of protecting civilians.

On Thursday, a source in the Kremlin told Interfax that “Russian railway and oil companies have not bad chances for continuing their work in Libya.”

Margelov stressed that at the height of the hostilities between pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels he had been given personal assurances that contracts made prior to the collapse of the Gaddafi regime would continue to be honored by the new transitional government.

“These include contracts dealing with the oil sector, military-technical cooperation and the laying of a railway line,” he said.

On the instruction of President Dmitry Medvedev, Margelov represented Russia at the Paris conference, which was called to deal with the post-war restoration of Libya.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday that Russia recognized the Transitional National Council of Libya as the current authority.

“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,” said a representative of the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, international leaders agreed to unfreeze assets, estimated to be around $15 billion dollars, of ousted Muammar Gaddafi and thus help the interim government rebuild the war-torn country.

Margelov said the UN Security Council has to determine the international role in all future processes in Libya.

He echoed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said before the Paris meeting that “Russia has always called for the United Nations to decide all issues related to the Libyans overcoming their national crisis.”

Earlier, Lavrov had stressed that the conference in Paris was being viewed as a means for supporting the United Nation’s role in guiding future processes in Libya.

“This is not a contact group as was announced by the French. It is…a meetingthat we werereassured aims to discuss the concrete parameters so that the UN Security Council determines the role of the international community in all future processes (in Libya),” Lavrov told Interfax on Thursday

“We have accepted this invitation since we have always called for all such issues regarding international support and assistance in overcoming the Libyan crisis to be resolved precisely by the UN,” the Russian foreign minister said.

The post-conflict reconstruction of Libya must be carried out under the aegis of the UN and not by some quasi-organizations, he added.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Margelov plans to visit Tripoli for a meeting with representatives of the Transitional National Council.

“I plan to visit Tripoli on orders given by the head of state,” he confirmed. “And our country is ready to participate in work within UN-led international missions in Libya.”

Margelov added that he will meet with representatives of the Transitional National Council to discuss different issues with them, including those linked to Libya’s modernization plans.

Meanwhile, although former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi hasn’t been seen for weeks, he managed to release a recorded message broadcast on Libyan television calling his supporters to mount a guerrilla war against “the occupiers of his country.”

Although public support for Gaddafi seems to have disappeared, life for average Libyans is far from normal with dwindling supplies of food, water and fuel posing a daily challenge to survival.

Robert Bridge, RT

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