By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 30 June 2017:
Dutch plans to restore its diplomatic presence in Tripoli are limited for the time being to having a single diplomat there rather than reopening the full embassy, as was earlier suggested.
A full-fledged embassy is “still too early” given the current circumstances, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders has said.
“But this is an important first step to being represented at diplomatic level again in Tripoli,” he added last night.
The Netherlands needed to maintain a diplomatic presence in the Libyan capital “to be able to follow the complex situation properly, to have better contact with the Libyan authorities and to better guide our support programmes to the country,” he was quoted saying in a statement from the foreign ministry.
In particular, The Netherlands wanted to kept fully aware of what was happening in relation to human trafficking.
“The continuing instability in Libya, on the southern border of the European Union, also has far-reaching consequences for us, such as the large flow of migrants,” Koenders stated.
The decision to have a diplomatic presence in Tripoli, albeit just one person, followed his working dinner last night in The Hague with Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and his foreign minister Mohamed Siala, who have been on a two-day visit to The Netherlands.
People smuggling was one of the issues talked about during the dinner and within that context, further Dutch support for the Libyan Coast Guard in terms of training and resources was also discussed.
Earlier in the day, the Libyan delegation met with a number of Dutch companies and visited the port of Rotterdam.
The Dutch Embassy in downtown Tripoli was closed at the end of July 2014. Since then, the ambassador and other staff have been operating out of the Dutch embassy in Tunis.
Apart from the security reasons for not reopening a full mission, the Dutch minister also admitted there was not enough money in the budget because of constant annual cuts in funding for embassies abroad. “It is high time that after many years of shrinkage it is invested again in our diplomatic strength,”Koenders said.
The Netherlands becomes a member of the UN Security Council at the end of the year.