Posted by meb at November 3rd, 2011

Turkish contractors, long unable to receive payments for projects in an unstable Libya, woke up Wednesday with renewed hope as Economy Minister Zafer ÇaÄŸlayan arrived in Tripoli to discuss a solution for the problem with the country’s new rulers, the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Following months of heavy fighting against dictator Muammar Gaddafi, NTC fighters gained full control of Libya last month. Turkish construction companies that have the largest share of Turkish investments in Libya had to suspend projects following the national unrest.

Companies have failed to receive payment for projects — estimated at around $1.5 billion — they had completed prior to the uprising.

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan and a group of Turkish construction contractors met with Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to discuss the future of payments of around $1.5 billion during a one-day visit on Monday. Observers said the visit had significant importance considering this is the first face-to-face interchange with the NTC on construction project payments following the council’s recent internationally recognized victory over Gaddafi forces. The minister met with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the NTC on Wednesday in Tripoli. Speaking prior to the meeting, Abdul Jalil said they were grateful for Turkey’s support during the conflict and that Turkish companies will have a significant role in rebuilding the country’s civil war-torn towns. “Turkish companies will reconstruct buildings all across Libya, and some of these will be allocated to Libyan residents. This will be a great example of solidarity for future generations,” he explained. “Turkish companies had undertaken great projects in Libya, and they are famous for their quality work,” the NTC head added. Turkey has lent financial support as well as humanitarian assistance to victims of the Libyan conflict. Both Çağlayan and Abdu Jalil were expected to inform reporters about unpaid debts through the end of the day. The problems, however, may not come to an end as security is another issue that remains to be solved in the North African country.

Some Turkish contractors voiced concerns a possible authority gap in the post-Gaddafi Libya could endanger projects, currently underway at a total value of $15 billion. Turkish businesspeople are now hoping the government will also help secure the business rights they enjoyed during Gaddafi’s rule. But the issue that needs to be addressed first is the current unpaid debts. Evaluating the developments to Today’s Zaman on Wednesday, Association of Turkish Building Material Producers (İMSAD) Chairman Hüseyin Bilmaç said they attached utmost importance to healthy cooperation between Turkish advisors, industrialists and contractors in Libya. “This is crucial in maintaining our leadership in the Libyan construction market. … We are expecting the new government to address the safety concerns in the coming months,” he argued.

Speaking in Ankara on Wednesday, Union of Turkish Construction Industry Employers’ Union (İNTES) President Şükrü Koçoğlu said they “have to find an addressee with whom to discuss the future of Turkish projects in the country.”
source: todays zaman