Australian Statement to the UN High Level Meeting on Libya

New York

Statement

20 September 2011

Thank you, Under Secretary General.

Distinguished colleagues and friends of the new Libya, can I begin by congratulating our colleagues, the President of the National Transitional Council and their Prime Minister for the extraordinary courage and leadership that you have shown through an extraordinarily difficult time.

Political change of this order of magnitude does not come easily. It requires courage, it requires determination, it requires leadership.

I congratulate you and your colleagues for having provided that leadership at a very dangerous time for your country.

Some may think that Australia is a long way away from Libya. If you look at the map, that is true. But we are very, very close in the family of democracies and we are very, very close in the family of political freedom across the world. We therefore stand ready to work with you closely in the difficult years ahead as we have done in the last period of time.

We in Australia are proud of the fact that we remain the third largest donor in the world to Libya’s ongoing humanitarian needs. We have not been a military contributor, but we have been one of the largest humanitarian contributors and we are proud of that fact.

Secondly, we’ve also in response to the requests of the National Transitional Council, worked very closely with the Libyan Government in providing loans to Libyan students and their families in Australia – one to one and a half thousand of them – to complete their studies so that they can return to Libya to help build the new country.

We in Australia are proud of the fact also that we were among the first countries in the world, when there were very few voices in the world, calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no fly zone on Libya when the battle for Benghazi looked as if it was going to conclude in a very bloody way.

For the future, can I say this: we are pleased to announce some further steps.

We will soon have the visit of an Australian delegation of senior officials including our Ambassador Designate to Tripoli and explore ways in which we can provide further targeted and practical assistance in the new Libya, including in education reform, electoral assistance and also the role of women in the new Libyan democracy.

Secondly, I have just signed the de-listing of eight Libyan entities subject to Australian targeted autonomous financial sanctions.

And thirdly, to unfree some sixty million dollars of Libyan funds held in the accounts of Australian banks abroad to support Libyan students in Australia and New Zealand.

Finally, we also look forward to rebuilding the commercial relationship with our friends in Libya. Given the enormous needs that now exist for the rebuilding of Libya and therefore the ability for our firms to participate in the reconstruction and the resource sections of the country.

Your Excellencies, Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, we congratulate you on your great personal success, your great personal courage.

We in Australia remain your firm friends into the future. In Australia, we believe in doing what we say.

I thank you.

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