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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Poland brings Libya in from the cold

from Laurence Mackin at the Warsaw Business Journal:

Prime Minister Marek Belka headed a delegation that met with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi over two days in Tripoli. Belka was accompanied by a delegation of businessman that included the head of [Polish oil giant] PKN Orlen, Igor Chalupec.

Poland is just one of a number of countries rushing to invest in Libya's vast resources, following the lifting of sanctions against the country.

"Trade between Poland and Libya is close to zero. We must change that," said Prime Minister Belka in Tripoli. "Poland has an experience in many industries that are needed in Libya, my trip here is to look for opportunities.

"We have proposed to Libya to provide Polish technical assistance to transform its weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, to peaceful ones and Libya has welcomed it."

Belka also offered to train Libyan military officers and "remove storages of internationally banned weapons." International inspectors last year reported that Libya's chemical weapons stockpiles included 23 metric tons of mustard gas and 1,300 tons of precursor chemicals for the production of nerve gas.

The talks also touched on the subject of outstanding debts between Libya and Poland from the 1980s. Communist Poland bought oil from Libya and Polish companies constructed production plants and roads in the North African nation. Poland says Libya owes it around $88 (zł.272.72) million, while Libya insists Poland owes it $30 (zł.92.97) million. The government says this is a "key problem" in bilateral relations.

Several Polish companies will also seek licenses for oil exploration in Libya. Currently, Poland sells machines, heavy equipment and construction materials to Libya, with trade turnover of about $9.5 (zł.29.44) million a year.

This is the latest move in Libya's return to the international fold. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya resolved the Lockerbie case. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.


Blogger Andrew said...

Off subject, but I was wondering, is the new PM any more popular than Leszek Miller was? (Is it possible to be less popular?)

1/06/2005 06:58:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

*note: I'll be posting pronunciations the first time I mention a Polish name, so those readers with no experience with Polish can identify them easier.

At this point, even Andrzej Lepper (AHND-jay LEP-perr) would be more popular than Miller was at the end of his term early last year, when he had just over 2% support.

My impression is that people are not dissatisfied with PM Marek Belka (MA-rrek BEL-kah), but neither he (nor Cimoszewicz -- Chee-moh-SHEH-veech) can stop the sea change that will happen in Polish politics that is due to happen in summer or early autumn.

PO in a landslide.

1/07/2005 01:29:00 AM  

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