Belgium's part in the liberation of Libya
At the end of August, the battle of Tripoli is raging. This uprising of the Libyan people raises hope for and end to the violence that Muammar Gaddafi's regime is inflicting upon the population. This regime had lost all legitimacy, as borne out by the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against Gaddafi and his sons Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Sanussi for crimes against humanity.
Full merit goes to the Libyan population, which, after 42 years, has put an end to the repression exercised by Gaddafi's Jamahiriya regime. In this the people of Libya could count on the support of the international community, including the European Union, which systematically increased economic and political pressure on the regime. As part of NATO's Operation Unified Protector, sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, Belgium actively contributed to protecting the civilian population – always the first victim of armed conflict.
For instance, the Belgian aerial detachment helped to establish a no-fly zone over Libya (with the exception of humanitarian flights) using six F-16 fighter planes. The detachment's mission also consisted in supporting NATO operations that aimed to neutralise anti-air defences, or Libyan units threatening the civilian population or inhabited areas. Our interventions were also very helpful to the rebel forces, as targeted strikes allowed command and communication channels of Gaddafi's regime to be cut. Between March and the beginning of the battle in Tripoli, our F-16s dropped 365 bombs and hit 97% of their targets.
From now on it is up to the people of Libya, first and foremost, to begin the reform process. Belgium has now called on the legitimate representatives of the Libyan population to rise to their responsibilities, show leadership, speak with one voice and to create the conditions necessary for the transition process.
Belgium committed to peace
Belgium has announced that, alongside its allies, it will make its contribution to the transition in Libya under the impetus of the United Nations. The ministerial select committee has already made several decisions in this respect:
Belgium will take all steps necessary to reopen its embassy in Tripoli as soon as possible, taking into account developments of the security situation in the city. Belgium wishes in this way to stress the importance of good diplomatic relations with Libya.
Belgium is taking the necessary steps to unfreeze (via a decision of the United Nations Sanctions Committee and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1970) 100 million euros' worth of Libyan assets. These unfrozen funds will be used to humanitarian ends.
Finally, Belgium will free up 6 million euros for the reconstruction of Libya. 2.6 million euros from the Cooperation budget have already been set aside for helping refugees fleeing combat and repression in Libya. Minister Olivier Chastel is prepared to free up a new sum of 3 million euros to support the transition to democracy as part of a regional approach linked to the Arab Spring. Minister Vanackere, for his part, is ready to make available some 250,000 euros for the budget for preventive diplomacy.
If necessary, Belgium is also prepared to send a DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) team to help Libyans identify the many civilian victims of combats.