Bulgaria may cancel Libya debt

PM says forgiving debt would not be "paying ransom" for released health workers.

    The health workers have been enjoying their first full day of freedom in eight years [AFP]

    The six medics were flown to Bulgaria on Tuesday and immediately pardoned by Georgi Parvanov, the Bulgarian president .

    At a press conference in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, Ashraf Alhajouj, the freed doctor, said: "I thank all the people in Bulgaria.

    "I was told I would be transferred to Bulgaria - I said "for sure" as I no longer wanted to be in the Arab world.

    "I am really disappointed with the whole Arab world and the how they have taken our case.

    "It is a matter of time, I don't know when, only God knows when, and the truth will come out."

    Tripoli owes Bulgaria $54 million and Stanishev said "Undoubtedly, the issue of [forgiving] the Libyan debt is one of the possible ways for Bulgaria to contribute."

    Media praise

    If Sofia writes off the Libyan debt, accrued for arms deliveries and technical assistance during the communist era, the money would be recycled into an international fund set up to help the families of more than 400 HIV victims.

    The six health workers were flown to Sofia on a French jet after the EU, which Bulgaria joined in January, brokered a last-minute deal on medical aid and political ties with Libya.

    Bulgaria and its western allies have said the six were innocent and suggested that not freeing them would hurt Libya's efforts to emerge from decades of diplomatic isolation.

    Bulgarian media celebrated their return on Wednesday with special praise reserved for the two women central to their release.

    Cecilia Sarkozy, France’s first lady was referred to, amongst other things, as having "discreet charm" and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external affairs commissioner, as a "smile-toting diplomatic rebel".

    Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, is due in Libya on Wednesday and is said to be seeking deeper political and commercial ties with the North African country.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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