Libya will accelerate work towards implementing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, state-run Anadolu Agency reported the country’s interim prime minister as saying on Monday.
Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh travelled to Turkey on Monday where he met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking at a roundtable of Turkish and Libyan officials, Dbeibeh rattled off the measures his government would take to facilitate greater investment from Turkey.
“We want the Turkish and Libyan private sectors to interact and even merge,” Dbeibeh said. “We will do whatever it takes to make it easier for you to do business with Libyan businesses in various sectors.”
Dbeibeh also spoke about the possibility of creating a free trade agreement with Turkey. He added that Libya will work towards opening an embassy in Ankara and allowing a Turkish consulate to open in Benghazi. Located in the country’s east, Benghazi is considered a stronghold of the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) but has lowered his profile amid political negotiations on the country’s future.
After the fall of Muammar Gadhafi’s government in 2011, Libya descended into a chaotic civil war. Though Erdogan called for Gadhaffi to step down and ultimately supported the NATO-led intervention against him, Turkish companies lost billions in contracts inked during the late Libyan dictator’s reign.
Turkey is a strong supporter of the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accords (GNA) that is based in Tripoli. In November 2019, they concluded a controversial maritime pact that established a maritime bordder between the two countries. Neighbours that include Egypt, Greece and Cyprus were outraged by the deal, slamming it as illegal for infringing on their own maritime border.
One month later, Turkey staged a military intervention to save the GNA from Haftar’s forces as they besieged Tripoli. Using Syrian mercenaries and armed drones, the offensive was blunted and Haftar retreated east.
After Dbeibeh was selected as interim prime minister in March, Turkey quickly expressed its support for him and his government. During his visit to Turkey, Dbeibeh promised that Libya “respects and recognizes all agreements signed in the past.”