EU, Germany Ready to Unfreeze Libyan Assets in Favor of Rebels

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | August 23, 2011, Tuesday // 19:24
Bulgaria: EU, Germany Ready to Unfreeze Libyan Assets in Favor of Rebels EU High Rep for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton speaks after a meeting of Crisis Platform on Libya at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, August 23, 2011. EPA/BGNES

The EU is getting ready to unblock frozen Libyan assets to the benefit of the Benghazi-based rebel government as soon as the UN approves this move, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has announced.

Just as the Libyan rebels breached into Gaddafi's compound early Tuesday night, the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy further revealed details of a conversation with rebel council chairman Abdel Jalil, who told her that rebels are in control of 80% of Tripoli, as cited by the BBC.

Catherine Ashton also said Tuesday, as cited by Al Jazeera, that Libya's transitional administration will need funds to make sure public sector workers are paid, stores have sufficient supplies and the economy can be developed again.

She added that EU nations were also looking to provide aid, medical supplies and fuel needed in the capital.

 Ashton did make it clear she was convinced that Libya would not need substantial EU aid after the release of the frozen assets.

"I anticipate that the release of assets back to the Libyan people is going to actually create a lot of resources on the ground," EU High Representative for foreign policy Catherine Ashton told reporters in Brussels.

"It is a country that is rich ... it is a country that has the capacity to develop its economy very quickly, so I don't anticipate economic aid as such," Ashton added.

Amid reports that rebel fighters had entered Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli, Ashton refused to speculate about the Libyan leader's downfall.

"I don't doubt that the future of Libya lies in a country which has a democratic future ... without Gaddafi. Whether that will be in the next few days or longer, remains to be seen," she said.

In her words, she will travel to New York Friday to discuss the strategy on Libya with officials from the Arab League, the African Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation under the auspices of the UN.

Germany is to begin lending EUR 100 M (USD 140 M) to Libya's Transitional National Council within days, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin earlier on Tuesday.

"The country can't be allowed to sink into chaos in the era after Gaddafi. It has to return to order," Westerwelle said, referring to embattled Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi, as cited by DPA.

Under an accord agreed last month and signed Monday in the Libyan city of Benghazi, the first tranche of the German loan will be sent to the Transitional National Council to finance its operations.

Benghazi is to keep the money until the frozen foreign assets of the Gaddafi regime are released. Germany alone is holding assets worth EUR 7.2 B.

Westerwelle also called for the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution on Libya "as soon as possible," so that billions of dollars in frozen assets could be returned to the Libyan people. The United Nations had to play a 'key role' in reconstruction, he added.

Meanwhile, Austria also made it clear it planned to ask the UN Libya sanctions committee shortly to allow the unfreezing of some of the seized government funds on request of the rebels, a Vienna foreign ministry spokesman said.

In Vienna, foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said the rebels had requested to Austria to unfreeze funds in order to fund Libya's schools.

The government would transmit the request to the UN in New York and plans to release an undisclosed share of the USD 1.2 B dollars seized in Austria.

"Austria wants to transmit the request quickly to support the transitional council and the new decision makers," the spokesman said adding his country's decision was unrelated to the recent military gains by rebels in Tripolis.

With their announcements in support of the unfreezing of the Gaddafi regime's assets to the benefit of the rebel government, the EU, Germany, and Austria joined France and the Netherlands, which have made similar statements in recent weeks.

DPA reminds that France announced at the beginning of the month that it would hand over USD 259 M in funds confiscated from Gaddafi and his inner circle to the opposition to be used for humanitarian purposes.

The Netherlands said in mid-August that they had released EUR 100 M euros of seized funds to pay for medicine.

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Tags: Libya, Germany, Austria, France, Netherlands, frozen assets, Muammar Gaddafi, Catherine Ashton, EU, High Representative, Guido Westerwelle

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