Bulgaria Reverses Position, Recognizes Libyan Rebels with Croatia

Diplomacy | June 28, 2011, Tuesday // 15:21|  views

Libyan rebels soldiers take part in a training to be ready for the frontline near Misrata, Libya, 13 June 2011. EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria and Croatia have become the 19th and 20th sovereign nations to have recognized formally the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council in Benghazi as the legitimate representative of the Libyan nation in international affairs.

The recognition of the rebels who have been fighting the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi since February 2011 came during a visit of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov in Benghazi, the rebels’ capital, on Tuesday.

Bulgaria's Borisov Cabinet has thus reversed its position as of March 2011 when it refused to recognize the National Transitional Council stating that some of its members were involved in the torture and imprisonment of the 6 Bulgarian medics in the so called Libya HIV trial (1999-2007).

In addition to Bulgaria and Croatia, the Libyan rebels have already been recognized formally by France, Qatar, the Maldives, Italy, Kuwait, Gambia, Jordan, Senegal, UK, Spain, Australia, UAE, Germany, Canada, Panama, Austria, Latvia, and Demnark, while a dozen of other countries including major powers such as the USA, Russia, China, and Turkey have established informal relations with the authority in Benghazi.

“For more than three months the Libyan people have defended their right to freedom. Their legitimate demands have been met with violent attacks by the forces of Muammar Gaddafi.  By brutally attacking his own people, Colonel Qaddafi has lost all legitimacy,” reads the joint statement of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic.

“Bulgaria and Croatia, as NATO allies, fully backed and participated in the efforts of the international community to respond to the impending crisis. The international community responded to the calls for support by the people of Libya and the Arab League. In implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 NATO, with the participation of other countries, launched operations to protect the civilian population in Libya, to implement a no-fly zone and a naval blockade. The assets of the regime have been frozen, and arrest warrants have been issued by the International Criminal Court for some of the top regime leadership.

“Gaddafi’s era is over, and he must go immediately. Those accused of crimes against humanity will be held to account before judges in a criminal court. The time has come for a real political process of national reconciliation and transition. The Libyan people who strive for freedom and democracy have demonstrated their will to be represented by a unified and inclusive national council,” reads the joint statement of Sofia and Zagreb.

“Bulgaria and Croatia regard the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Our support stems from the understanding that the NTC is able to lead the process of building a democratic and inclusive Libya, built on the rule of law and upholding the highest international human rights standards. We welcome the 'Road to Democratic Libya' presented by the NTC and support its vision for a new Libya and stand ready to assist the NTC in developing its capacity to assume its responsibilities and uphold the rule of law. We are confident that the Council will continue to work in close cooperation with the international community represented by the Contact Group for Libya to enhance regional stability,” conclude Mladenov and Jandrokovic.

The program of Bulgarian Foreign Minister in Benghazi includes a meeting with the head of the Libyan Transitional Council Mahmoud Jibril, and some of its members, as well as representatives of the civil society, as well as a visit to a local hospital and a small medical donation.

The Bulgarian government is going to send to Benghazi a special envoy to the National Transitional Council who will be in charge of the bilateral relations.

Back in March 2011, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said his Cabinet would not recognize the government of the Libyan rebels because some of its officials took part in the torture of the Bulgarian nurses and doctor jailed by the Gaddafi regime in 1999-2007, and twice sentenced to death for allegedly infecting 400 Libyan children with AIDS before they were brought back to Bulgaria, the so called Libyan HIV trial.

Borisov had responnded to France’s call for recognition of the Libyan rebels by the EU states but stating that people who tortured the Bulgarian medics and orchestrated the HIV trial, which cost Bulgaria USD 60 M, were among the members of the rebels’ transitional council.

It is not clear yet what has led the government in Sofia to change its position with respect to the authority in Benghazi.

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Tags: transitional National Council, Benghazi, rebels, Muammar Gaddafi, Libya, Croatia, Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, Libya HIV trial, HIV trial, Bulgarian medics, Bulgarian nurses, diplomatic relations, recognition


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