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NATO announces withdrawal of all troops from Libya

31.10.2011 - 17:52

NATO has announced an end of Libya operations by 31 October 2011, with operations over the weekend scaled down significantly to allow for an easier withdrawal on the final date.

The announcement has shown that this is one of the most successful missions to date for the sometimes criticised institution. At the peak of operations, the United Kingdom recorded only 2,300 personnel in the country, and had successfully struck around 640 intended Libyan targets.

"Our armed forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people,” said British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. Unlike the political and social quagmire experienced by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, NATO can look on this mission in Libya as a building block in which they can launch further aid missions in countries experiencing humanitarian crises.

In tandem with the decision to remove troops, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has visited the African nation to meet with the representatives of Libyan civil society. The president spoke on the importance of the civil sector in aiding Libya's goal of a peaceful state, saying that "If Libya walks through the path of peace and democracy in the future, it will not only be thanks to the decisions of its politicians. The guarantees of a free Libya will come mainly from you: civil society, non-governmental organisations, intellectuals, women organisations and pluralist media.”

Buzek was also keen to emphasise the important role of the media in restructuring Libya, saying that Free media are of particular importance. The revolution has partly been a success of communication.  “You [the Libyan people] need to ensure that the same positive role will be played in the foundation of the new Libya. Achieving media independence and pluralism is not easy, we see this even in Europe.”

The joint actions of the EU's Parliament and NATO in removing troops and promoting EU support to this ravaged country may provide for promising aid missions in other areas of the world as well. However, should the lack of international presence provide for a resurgence of violence in Libya, then NATO and the world will be left to wonder whether it can continue to be an effective international organisation.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek met with the National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil on 29 October in Tripoli, Libya.

Buzek welcomed the sentiments of freedom in Libya and positive attitude of the NTC officials. "I am coming to a liberated country. Today I walked through Martyrs' Square and I talked with dozens of citizens and I felt the enthusiasm and hope of people freed from the yoke of despotism,” Buzek added.

Parliament President reiterated that the EU stands firmly by the people of Libya on their path towards full democratisation of the society. Buzek recalled that the European Parliament was the first to receive representatives of the NTC, first to invoke responsibility to protect in the EP resolution of 10 March.

Buzek underlined that the EU is prepared to assist Libya, but will not impose anything. “The EU is ready to help Libya, but only when Libya itself will seek this support,” he said. However, Buzek suggested that ratification of all the relevant UN conventions on the protection of human rights, minorities and women would be warmly welcomed.

“You have won the struggle over Gaddafi. Now you have to win the peace and your future,” Buzek concluded.