A Moment of Truth for Bulgaria, Libya, the World

Editorial |Author: Milena Hristova | March 1, 2011, Tuesday // 15:35|  views

Eleven years after their arrest and the horrors of Libya's jails, six Bulgarian medics, who were sentenced to death in the Jamahiriya, have been morally vindicated - Libya admitted that Muammar Gaddafi is behind the HIV outbreak in Benghazi.

Libya's former Justice Minister, who recently joined the anti-Gaddafi forces in the country, stated last week that not the Bulgarian medics, but the regime of leader Muammar Gaddafi was responsible for infecting more than 400 children with HIV. Mustafa Abudel-Jalil made the statement late Wednesday for Al Jazeera, saying the trial involving Bulgarian medics was just one of several serious crimes committed by Gaddafi's regime against his own people.

With this statement Gaddafi's formerly closest aide acquitted morally the Bulgarian medics, who have been turned into scapegoats, and cleared the tarnish, with which Bulgaria has been smeared for more than a decade.

The announcement also taught the world one more of Libya's terrible lessons – that there is no point in and no excuse for cozying up to a tyrant. Even if he proclaims to be a new man.

The travesty trial of the Bulgarian medics in Libya was a clear act of blackmail from the very beginning. In 2007, Bulgaria completely wrote off Libya's debt to facilitate negotiations and obtain the release from jail of the six Bulgarian medics. The involvement of the Sarkozy couple in the final stages of the talks and the suspicious deal the French President struck with Gaddafi secured their transfer and subsequent pardoning in Sofia.

In this way the big European winner in the deal was France, and the release of the medical workers was a diplomatic coup for Nicolas Sarkozy, who wanted to replicate for France Blair's stunning success with Libya.

The medical workers' liberation paved the way to full political and economic rapprochement for Libya in the international community, a fact, which now should be a cause for embarrassment at least. Now those international leaders, who rehabilitated Gaddafi, declared him an ally in the battle against al-Qaida and signed lucrative contracts to buy his oil, have a lot to think about and answer for.

Sarkozy and Blair are not alone in this. The Bush administration, Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and a succession of world leaders, including Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and Nelson Mandela stand guilty too. They embraced Gaddafi back into the international fold and were happy to elect Libya to the UN Human Rights Council.

Abudel-Jalil's confession will not help world leaders put an end to their bouts of bad conscience, triggered by the tragic bloodbath in Libya. Nor will it put an end to this bizarre and tortuous episode in Libya-Bulgaria recent history. For starters, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has just vowed to force Libya into paying back those USD 130 M Gaddafi "stole" in exchange for the nurses' freedom.

Most sadly though scoring the much-awaited moral victory over the mercurial, merciless and manipulating tyrant is not that good bit of news for the medics themselves. After having spent years on end in an African prison, much of it on a death row, the absolving just came a bit too late.

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Tags: Benghazi, HIV, Abudel-Jalil, Mustafa, medics, Bulgarian, Bulgaria, Libya, Gaddafi, Muammar, France, Blair, Nicolas, Sarkozy


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