Tánaiste's statement at High Level Meeting on Libya, United Nations, New York, 20 September 2011
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore T.D.,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
High Level Meeting on Libya
New York, 20 September 2011
This is an occasion which the Libyan people, and people who value democratic freedoms around the world, will long remember. It is a watershed moment in the unfolding story of the Arab Spring.
I warmly welcome, on behalf of the Irish Government, the fall of the cruel and oppressive Gaddafi regime and the victory of the Libyan people, as well as the National Transitional Council which has successfully led the challenge to Gaddafi’s rule. This revolution was started by Libyans and ended by Libyans fearlessly insisting on their right to freely express opinions, to live without fear and to claim back their country, even in the face of lethal strength. In the end, it was noteworthy as we watched the liberation of Tripoli, that the forces of the dictator which ruled Libya in a brutal and ruinous fashion for 42 years withered away. The Libyan people have, with great courage, made clear their preference for a new, democratic Libya.
I also welcome the fact that, in their heroic task, the Libyan people were supported by the international community. The UN can be proud of its role in bringing together the international community to support the Libyan people, through firm political support for their demands for freedom, through stringent international sanctions against the Gaddafi regime, and through military protection of civilians. Ireland has been glad to play a part in this, by offering what political and humanitarian assistance it could to the Libyan people over the past six months.
Libya now faces urgent tasks of reconstruction, reconciliation and development. I would like to offer all possible cooperation from Ireland to the Libyan people in the period ahead. I look forward to working closely with the NTC in the coming months as, in cooperation with the UN and the international community, they prepare the ground for adoption of a new constitution and the holding of the first truly free and democratic elections in Libya. Ireland is also committed to working intensely to promote and develop our bilateral relations with the new Libya.
It is a time of great optimism but also expectations of Libya. I hope that the Libyan National Transitional Council will quickly be able to establish an effective government over the whole country and build on their roadmap towards a democratic and just Libya. I have met NTC representatives in Dublin, and I am impressed by their vision of an inclusive and democratic future for all Libyans, and the thought-out plans they had for achieving it. The international community will look to them to respect human rights and the rule of law, including in respect of prisoners, and to restore peace and stability.
The role of women was also integral to this triumph of the Libyan people and full respect for the rights of women and the realisation of their potential will be a key ingredient in the building of a new Libya.
This is what Libyans have demanded, from the very first brave protests in Benghazi in February. And I have no doubt that this is what the Libyan people, with the support of the international community, will now work hard to build.