Democracy is very challenging – Gonzi
Addressing a debate on the new Libya, organised by Nationalist Party think-tank the Academy for the Development of a Democratic Environment (AZAD), yesterday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said he hoped the planned Libyan elections will lead to a process bringing stability to the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
“Libya has a big role to play, and if it plays it well, success will result,” he said.
The debate, entitled Free Libya: One Year On, also saw the participation of University of Malta lecturer Abdalla Kablan and Libya’s National Transitional Council spokesman for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Ahmed Jehani.
Dr Gonzi arrived as Ahmed Jehani was saying that the current group of people taking decisions in the interests of Libya are determined to hold elections for a provisional government. These, he said, are people who are Libyan, know the country and understand people’s needs – rather than foreigners who lose their way in the streets of Tripoli.
It is hoped that, after September, a new government will be installed, with the power to sign contracts and start drawing up policies.
“Once things are raised to that level, we will help you and you will help us,” he said.
Dr Gonzi expressed his amazement at what the Libyan people had managed to achieve within a year.
“No one predicted that, in April 2012, we would be discussing the Free Libya,” he said.
He interpreted the fact that Tripoli had collapsed in three days as an indication that this was what Libyan mothers and fathers wanted. The victory therefore cannot be underestimated and the courage of determination of the Libyans, who fought for their country, has to be recognised. That, he said, should give us courage when looking towards the future of Libya.
The success story means that Libyans now have the building blocks with which to construct their own future. Libyans, said Dr Gonzi, are able to fight and win their own battles.
The turn of events had meant that Malta had to revise its ways and take the right decisions when necessary, and not out of convenience.
Dr Gonzi said he was proud that the whole of Malta had made the right choice when put to the test. “The future beckons for us all – the past 40 years showed how things should not be done,” he said. “This is now a new chapter for the Mediterranean – the White Sea, which signifies peace”.
He added that he expects Libya to be at the forefront of good relations in the Mediterranean.
“We need to work to identify common areas and build on them,” he said.
Dr Gonzi said that he looks forward to the next six months in which elections will be held and, later, a Constitution will be formed.
“Democracy is very challenging,” he pointed out, “but this will always remain your story”.
Malta will be there whenever necessary to give support, said the Prime Minister, and Malta will also continue to be on the right side of history in this respect.
He said he had told the Austrian President, who had visited Malta this week, that southern Europe is a most important area – being the belly of the continent – and that northern European countries needed to understand this.
Libya has enormous potential for growth in tourism, with a magnificent coastline and architecture that make for a thriving tourism industry, as well as natural resources, including oil.
He urged Libya to continue working on curbing illegal migration, because Malta was probably the country to have suffered most due to its size and high population density.
Finally, he reminded his listeners that Malta is a positive, fast and convenient gateway for Libya to the international market and Europe, in terms of business, education and health.
Similarly, Libya can help build relations with Tunisia, Egypt and countries in the Middle East.