Saturday, 22 August 2009

Don't upset Libya

The Swiss government tried to stand up to Libya and had to back down and apologise recently. Another of Colonel Gaddafi's sons and his pregnant daughter-in-law were held by Swiss police in July 2008 accused of assaulting their servants at a Geneva hotel. The Libyan couple were freed on bail after two days in custody and the complaint against them was dropped after a lawyer for their two Moroccan and Tunisian servants said they had received an undisclosed amount in compensation. End of the matter? Not when dealing with Colonel Gaddafi, who retaliated by closing Swiss businesses in Libya, arresting Swiss nationals and throwing Swiss diplomats out of Libya. Libya also suspended oil deliveries to Switzerland and withdrew Libyan assets worth nearly £4 billion from Swiss banks. So what did the Swiss do? Their president, Hans-Rudolf Merz, issued an apology during a joint press conference in Tripoli. He said he was sorry for the "unjust arrest of Libyan diplomats by Geneva police". Explaining the apology Swiss officials said the apology was aimed at restoring bilateral relations between Switzerland and Libya and ensuring the release of two Swiss businessmen, who had been barred from leaving Libya.

Libya just the country to do business in; if your home country upsets a Libyan diplomat you could be held hostage until an apology is received. It really is a shame that so much of the world's oil lies under the ground of countries whose regimes are so violent and vile, or maybe the presence of the oil is what allows the regimes to be so.

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