Hungary alone in waving EU flag in Tripoli

A new climate and nature protection action plan demonstrates the efficiency of Hungary’s Conservative Green Policy, argues Judit Varga.

Of all EU countries' embassies in Libya, only Hungary has a diplomatic presence in Tripoli and provides information to the EU. The European Commission told EURACTIV that the situation on the ground was "very difficult" and that the EU was "paying tribute" to the Hungarian Presidency for the work they are doing.

Following a NATO air strike in the night of 30 April that reportedly killed one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons and three of his grandchildren, the British and Italian embassies were ransacked and UN personnel left the country.

NATO denied having targeted Gaddafi himself, saying that the attack was against a military target.

But the strike was followed by angry scenes in Tripoli and the mob attacking Western embassies which had already been closed in the last weeks and months.

The United Nations has decided to pull its international staff from Tripoli to avoid physical attacks on them.

Asked how the EU was gathering information from Tripoli in such difficult circumstances, Maja Kociancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the EU was still able to obtain a wide range of information "from many different sources".

In particular, Kociancic singled out the Hungarian embassy, which she said was the only diplomatic mission of an EU country still open in Tripoli and still providing official information. Romania also had a consular service open, she added.

Although it is a NATO member, Hungary, the country holding the EU's rotating presidency, is not participating in military operations enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Asked if the risks for the Hungarian embassy were not too great given the animosity against NATO, Kociancic said that EU members were responsible for their own decisions, in light of their security assessments and needs on the ground.

"The situation is definitely very difficult and we pay tribute to the Hungarian Presidency for the work they are doing," she said.

Asked about other sources of information for the EU, she said that Brussels was able to obtain information from official news agencies, civil society actors and businesses, representatives of the Transitional National Council and the Libyan diaspora.

Apparently, diplomatic relations between Brussels and Tripoli are still ongoing, as Kociancic said that the EU executive had received a number of diplomatic notes from the Libyan authorities.

"We receive reporting from our Delegations in the region and maintain close contact with states in the region, international partners and international organisations regarding their assessment of the developing situation," she added.

Ashton's spokesperson also said that a number of EU member states were planning to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Tripoli "shortly".

Other embassies remaining in Tripoli include China, Russia (at the level of Chargé d'Affaires), Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, many African countries, plus Cuba and Venezuela, with a total of approximately 40 countries.

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