Speaking exclusively to Libya Herald at the Spanish Embassy, Tripoli, Alvaro Bordallo Sainz, Deputy Ambassador, said that since the visit of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to Tripoli in June 2021, the Spanish Embassy was re-opened and has been in full operation since. The Embassy carries out activities ranging from political and cultural to trade and visas, he explained.
A constructive partner in building peace and stability for Libya
Regarding the political file, he said the Spanish Embassy seeks to engage with Libyan authorities from all areas of the political spectrum as well as representatives from civil society organisations.
Spain wants to be a constructive partner in building peace and stability for the people of Libya and in that respect, works closely with the rest of the International Community to contribute to a Libyan led political solution that will lead the country to elections that will ultimately fulfil the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Libyan people.
More Spanish companies are expressing interest in investing in Libya
On trade relations, he said Spain has a trade office in Tripoli, which assists Spanish companies wishing to invest in Libya. Traditionally, Spanish exports to Libya revolve around the areas of construction material, pharmaceutical, foodstuff, equipment, services and agricultural products.
Since the end of the Libyan conflict, more Spanish companies are expressing interest in investing in Libya; there is therefore considerable room for increasing trade and exchanges to the benefit of both countries.
Spain has participated in this year´s edition of the Tripoli International Fair (TIF) as a first step to facilitate contacts and send a clear sign that “Libya is open for business”. The Embassy expects that this will result, in time, in more companies exploring the Libyan market. The Embassy has also visited the Libya Food Fair, Misrata Free Zone and the headquarters of the Alsahel Group to further prepare the ground for future investments.
Libyan exports to Spain revolve mainly around oil. Spanish company, Repsol, has been a long-lasting trade partner of Libya with a significant investment in corporate social responsibility projects benefiting local populations.
An ambitious cultural programme
Since June 2022, the Spanish Embassy has carried out an ambitious cultural programme aimed at bringing Spanish culture closer to the Libyan public and hence to bring our peoples closer through art and culture.
Every month since the beginning of the cultural programme, the Embassy has presented a taste of Spain, via its cinema, painting, music, fashion, dance and gastronomy. Several movies were projected in the context of the Spanish Film Festival, featuring comedy, action, thriller and animation. The response from the Libyan public was overwhelming and the response has always been outstanding.
Besides cinema, artists in the areas of painting, dancing, music, fashion and gastronomy have also visited Libya to produce their art and craft. The flamenco show that was hosted at the Red Castle of Tripoli in October 2022 was one of the most outstanding cultural activities of the Embassy of Spain.
Working on transferring visa applications to Tripoli
On criticism by the general Libyan public that foreign embassies are not doing enough to facilitate the application for visas, the Deputy Ambassador said while the Embassy is operational since June 2021, ‘‘logistic challenges’’ remain in the area of visa application. As a result, the visa section of the Embassy continues to operate from Tunis. While some procedures can already be done in Tripoli, the Embassy is ‘‘working towards a full transfer of the section to Tripoli as soon as possible’’.