France is working with the international community on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) to support the Libyan revolution and political transition.
French ties with Libya were never severed. After the closure of the French Embassy in Tripoli in February 2011, French diplomat Antoine Sivan was sent as Special Representative of France to the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi. The French Embassy reopened in Tripoli in August 2011. The Libyan Prime Minister visited Paris on 12 and 13 February 2013, along with a delegation of eight ministers and deputy ministers. The French Foreign Minister visited Tripoli on 23 April 2013 following the attack on the French Embassy, to express his support for our team and reiterate France’s commitment to Libya. On 30 July 2014, France moved its diplomatic mission to Tunis.
France remains committed to resolving the political crisis in Libya by supporting the UN mediation conducted by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (UNSRSG). It is on this basis that France instigated the International Conference on Libya, which took place on 29 May and where the following commitments and deadlines were established: adopting a constitutional basis by 16 September and holding parliamentary and presidential elections on 10 December. France supports the Presidential Council resulting from the Skhirat Agreement regarding its efforts to meet the people’s expectations. The political process must help to extend the effective control of the legitimate authorities across Libyan territory. National consensus is being sought to this end so that the Libyan State can meet the challenges of terrorism and migration which it is currently facing. France and the European Union are helping to channel the political process at the request of the Government of National Accord. As a result, on 1 April 2016, restrictive measures were adopted against three people who were obstructing political dialogue, and have since been renewed.
- On 23 July, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs travelled to Libya, where he met Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Head of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar, President of the High Council of State Khaled Mechri and President of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh.
- On 4 July, the Libyan Minister of Health, Omar Bashir al-Taher, visited France to attend a graduation ceremony for 15 Libyan surgeons.
- On 21 December, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs travelled to Libya, where he met Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli and General Hafter in Rajma.
- On 31 October, the Minister for Education of the Government of National Accord, Othman Abduljallil made a visit to France.
- On 4 September, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, travelled to Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi and Tobruk. There, he met Prime Minister Al-Sarraj, General Hafter, Abderrahmane Suweihli and Aguila Saleh.
- On 7 April, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with Libyan Prime Minister Al-Sarraj in Tunis.
- 27 September 2016: Visit by Prime Minister Al-Sarraj to France - Meeting with the President of the French Republic, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault, and with the Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.
- 16 April: Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Tripoli on 16 April 2016 with his German counterpart to support Prime Minister Al-Sarraj.
- 24 August: Meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Libyan counterpart, Mohammed al-Dairi.
- 6 March: Participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Rome Ministerial Conference on International Support to Libya.
- 14 October: Meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Libyan counterpart, Mohammed al-Dairi.
- 5-7 December: Participation of Ali Zeidan, Libyan Prime Minister, accompanied by Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa.
- 14 November : Participation of the French Foreign Minister in the second Regional Ministerial Conference on Border Security in Rabat, which focused on Libya.
- 23 October: Visit by the Libyan Minister of Labour and Retraining, Mohamed Fitouri Sualim, to Paris.
- 14-20 October: Visit by the Libyan Deputy Minister of Culture, Moussa Harim, to Paris and Marseille.
- 17-23 June: Participation of the Libyan Minister of Defence, Mohammed al-Barghati, and of the Libyan Minister of Transport, Abdelkader Mohamed Ahmed, in the Paris Air Show.
- 14-16 June: Working visit by the Libyan Minister of Labour and Retraining, Mohamed Fitouri Sualim, to France (Paris and Tours).
- 23 April: Visit to Tripoli by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius.
- 12-13 February: Visit to Paris by Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, together with the Ministers of
Foreign Affairs, Defence, Telecommunications and Health, and the Deputy Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Transport and Oil.
- 12 February: Paris International Ministerial Conference on Support to Libya in the areas of Security, Justice and the Rule of Law, co-chaired by the French Foreign Minister and his Libyan counterpart.
- 5 February: Visit to Tripoli by the French Minister Delegate for Veterans, Kader Arif.
- 12-15 January: Visit to France (Paris and Marseille) by the Libyan Minister of Culture and Civil Society, Dr Al Amin El Habib.
- 12-13 January: Visit to Tripoli by the Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad, Hélène
- 10-16 October: Visit to France (Paris and Bordeaux) by the Head of the Tripoli Local Council, Sadat Albadri, and by district mayors.
- 21-24 May: Visit to Paris by the Libyan Minister of Culture and Civil Society, Abderrahmane Habil.
- 20-21 March: Visit to Tripoli by the French Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Philippe Marini.
- 12-15 March: Visit to Paris by the Libyan Minister of the Interior, Fawzi Abdelali.
- 24-26 February: Visit to Libya (Tripoli, Misrata, Zintan and Benghazi) by the French Minister of Defence, Gérard Longuet.
- 29 January: Visit to Tripoli by the French Minister of Transport, Thierry Mariani.
The development of bilateral relations and the increasing openness of Libya after the Revolution has boosted economic and commercial exchanges. France was Libya’s second-largest customer in 2014, up three spots from the 2013 ranking. Our trade relations are characterized by a structural and fluctuating trade deficit, while 99% of our imports consist of oil and gas.
There are many opportunities for French businesses, in all sectors: oil and gas, transport, health, finance, telecommunications, water and sanitation, energy, housing, urban planning and development, industry and agrifood. French companies maintained their activities in Libya and were particularly active in the sectors of health, electricity, water/sanitation, agrifood and transport/infrastructure/civil aviation.
Yet Libya remains a difficult terrain. Poor decision-making and administrative capacities in Libya, and prevailing security conditions, do not facilitate access to the Libyan market. The deterioration in the political and security situation since the summer of 2014 has made our trade a great deal more complicated. Preserving the unity of Libyan economic and financial institutions (Central Bank, National Oil Corporation), which are torn between the two camps, is also crucial to this trade.
Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation
Based on the Skhirat Agreements, France is creating a set of measures to help the Government of National Accord strengthen its central and local administration and its institutions (security, customs, national heritage, universities), support civil society and youth and encourage economic revival and employment.
To do this, France is using tools such as CISAP grants (Specialised International Cycles in Public Administration) at the French National School of Public Administration (ENA) for Libyan civil servants or the “labcitoyens”, “culturelab” and “safirlab” programmes for young people and civil society, which provide placements in France and finance citizens’ projects. In 2016 and 2017, training sessions were also organized in France for Libyan archaeologists and heritage experts and in Tunis for Libyan journalists. A meeting between the Minister for Education of the Government of National Accord, Othman Abduljalil, and Campus France representatives took place on 31 October 2017 at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, opening up perspectives for relaunching our stock market and academic cooperation.
The posting of an adviser on cooperation and cultural action to the French Embassy in Libya in November 2016 after the position had remained vacant for two years allowed activity to pick up more quickly, as was seen in March 2017 with the organization at the Institut Français in Tunis of the “For Libya” event. By combining lecture cycles, exhibitions, concerts, culinary arts, literary cafés and short film screenings, this event marked the return of cultural cooperation, with the 2017 edition being held outside Libya until the security situation enables a return to Tripoli.
In 2017, France provided over €3 million for city infrastructure renovation, basic healthcare, mine clearance and risk education, election support, mediation, training, education and support for journalists and civil society. Responsibility for implementing most of this aid is given to specialized United Nations agencies (UNDP, WHO, UNMAS), as well as NGOs (ACTED, Handicap International, Première Urgence Internationale, Euromed Network France) and French agencies (CFI). These initiatives are equally spread throughout Libya.
These projects are in addition to long-term financing measures which began in 2016. For example, €250,000 has been invested in training regional managers as part of a partnership with ACTED, ENA and the Department of Public Administration at the University of Benghazi and €200,000 which was initially intended for evacuating the wounded has since been allocated to training courses for surgeons in collaboration with Poitiers University Hospital. A French-German project run by GIZ and ACTED on “integrating migrants into the local Libyan economy with the support of municipalities” received financing of €700,000 from the Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS) at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Finally, Expertise France receives European funding to create an economic recovery and business support programme. The programme was suspended in summer 2014 and resumed in autumn 2016, based in Tunis.
In 2018, France invested in key sectors to help resolve the crisis, such as humanitarian mine clearance, support for the electoral process, governance, higher education and research, youth employment and health. Work in these areas will continue in 2019.
France has also supported Libya by strengthening its national security forces, before this cooperation was suspended in the summer of 2014.
In the area of internal security, France is helping to train a presidential guard unit which is responsible for protecting Tripoli institutions resulting from the Skhirat Agreement. Furthermore, a contract was signed in October 2013 between Civipol (consultancy of the French Interior Ministry) and the Libyan Interior Ministry to train 1,000 police in democratic crowd control.
Updated: March 2019