Finance Minister Tonio Fenech has said that the new Libya has a lot to offer to the Maltese businessmen, but before anything else it must reconcile and move forward.
Speaking during the New Libya Forum, Fenech said: "Libya's wounds need to heal. The process of democracy building cannot be embarked upon without a parallel process of reconciliation. The Libyans need time to come to terms with their past, courage to forgive and determination to take themselves into a new era as a unified and cohesive nation state. The laying down of arms is essential for this process to move forward."
Fenech said that the relationship between Malta and Libya would foster business relationships and encourage trade and commerce.
"Malta has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Libya which will see one thousand young Libyans studying here. This will enable them to make a productive life for themselves at home, providing them also with the all-important exposure to the English Language in purposely-designed language courses," he said.
Fenech however reminded that the building of democratic institutions is crucial for the reconciliation of the new Libya: "The Parliament, The Judiciary and The Executive have to be constructed around the values of the people they represent. Malta is ready to assist Libya with the development of its institutions."
The finance minister said the rebuilding of Libya will not only offer Maltese businessmen with opportunities of trade and business exchanges, but it is an opportunity for the Libyans to translate their courage into a force for change and development of a new Libyan state.
"The success of Libya will depend on its people. If we understand this fundamental concept then Libya's success will also translate into our success," Fenech said.
"For the Maltese businessman, Libya offers a plethora of opportunities. The road towards achieving success in Libya will not be easy and will entail an element of risk inherent in any business decision and venture. What we can expect however is that in the medium and long term, Libya will be a safe place to invest and reap the benefits of such investments. Naturally, the recipe for success often depends on the creation of an environment conducive to business exchange."
Fenech promised Malta's help in assisting Libya with its immediate needs whilst looking to connect with all sectors, including education, health, agriculture, commerce as well as culture and tourism.
"Our expertise in various areas will no doubt lend itself useful in a Libya that is emerging. Together with the Libyan people we have already started laying the foundations of a strong and stable relationship that will bring our countries together in areas of mutual concern such as search and rescue but will also provide opportunities for cooperation and business exchange," Fenech said.
He added that Malta respected Libya's needs to emerge from the throes of a civil war as a strong and respected regional and international player: "Our region is moving into a new era. The Mediterranean Sea will once again be the catalyst for a vibrant and forward-looking region. Government will ensure that in this process for change and development, Malta will be at the forefront with our neighbours, ensuring opportunities for all."
Addressing the businesspersons present at the forum, Fenech urged them "to seek opportunities in a new Libya keeping in mind the needs of a newly independent state and always respecting and understanding the realities at hand".
"Government is here to support and encourage all those who are already operating in Libya as well as all those wishing to invest and venture into Libya. Much has already been laid out and will continue to build bridges and construct a safe and viable environment for you to work within," Fenech said.
(Source: Malta Today)