By Fatma Eda Topcu
Turkey and Libya should find a common ground to enhance their bilateral relations and to shape up their future plans, Turkish economy minister said Saturday.
Speaking at the Libya-Turkey Investment and Development Conference in Istanbul, Nihat Zeybekci said Libya was one of the first few overseas destinations for the Turkish construction sector, which is now ranked second in the world.
Stressing cultural unity and shared history of Turkey and Libya, Zeybekci said: "Libya and Turkey are the two countries which complement each other and never had rivalry between them."
Zeybekci noted the problems Turkish contractors had been facing in Libya for a while, such as non-payments for already completed projects or abandoned projects due to security issues.
"We are aware of all difficult circumstances in Libya and the victimization of Turkish contractors," he said. "We will discuss with the Libyan government on how to solve these problems and what can be done immediately."
"The Libyan government should determine its priorities about these issues and put them in an order, and then we will do whatever we can," he added.
Zeybekci recalled that there was some political and economic revival in Libya last year and said that the Turkish government welcomed it. He said the Turkish Embassy in Libya continued to work hard to have a strong presence in the country.
"Turkish businesspeople have invested around $5 billion in the industrial sector of Algeria, which is Libya’s neighboring country. I am sure there is a lot we can do in Libya," Zeybekci said.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, over the past five years the trade volume between Turkey and Libya has been declining gradually; the volume fell to $1.13 billion last year, down from $3.06 billion in 2013.
Libya has been dogged by chaos and political uncertainty since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
The ensuing power vacuum swiftly led to the emergence of several rival seats of government, including one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, and a plethora of heavily-armed militia groups.
*Muhammed Ali Gurtas in Ankara contributed to this report.