UN Assembly chief barred from Europe travel: Libya


The Libyan president of the UN General Assembly is among more than 180 people banned from travelling to Europe due to a diplomatic row between Libya and Switzerland, Libya’s UN mission said yesterday.

Ali Abdussalam Treki, former Libyan foreign minister and president of the General Assembly since last September, is on a list of Libyans whom Tripoli says are barred from obtaining visas in the so-called Schengen area.

The borderless travel zone incorporates 25 European countries 22 European Union members plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway where free movement of persons is guaranteed.

Libya is calling for an end to the visa ban for the people on the list, which was provided to reporters by its UN mission, and for both sides to resolve the dispute in arbitration mediated by a neutral country.
“We could have a solution, not to escalate everything,” Libyan Ambassador to the UN Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham told reporters at the country’s mission. “We want a solution.”

Shalgam himself, as well as Libya’s OPEC Secretary Abdullah Albadri, are on the list. A spokesperson for the Swiss mission declined comment.

Libya said Switzerland started imposing restrictions on granting Schengen visas to Libyan citizens in August 2009, and later issued a list of people prohibited from obtaining visas.

A Libyan newspaper wrote about the list in February, but the full list of names was only now made available.

Treki’s spokesman said the assembly president “stresses the need to resolve this dispute in a manner that upholds the principles of international law.”

Libyan relations with Switzerland broke down in mid-2008 with the arrest of a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a Geneva hotel on charges of mistreating two domestic servants.

The charges were dropped but Tripoli cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew more than $5 billion from Swiss bank accounts and imposed a trade embargo on the neutral alpine country.

More European countries were pulled into the dispute when Libya blocked visas for citizens of the Schengen passport-free zone, including most of the European Union, after the Swiss barred entry to some Libyans including Gaddafi and his family.

Switzerland’s decision to impose a travel ban on Libyan officials prompted retaliation by Tripoli, which imposed visa restrictions on all visitors from the Schengen area.

The dispute is uncomfortable for European governments that struck up friendly ties with Gaddafi after Libya emerged from sanctions and began cooperating on security and migration.

Pic: Liyban president- Muammar Gaddafi

Source: www.af.reuters.com