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The European from Tripoli tells

(BRUSSELS2) If this title can be awarded, it is to Bela Marton, Hungarian ambassador to Libya, who has been the official representative of the European Union in Tripoli since January and, above all, the only “Western” ambassador present in the Libyan capital. In the absence of a European delegation in Libya, it is in fact the rotating presidency which traditionally ensures the representation and coordination of member states in a country. In Libya, this work, which often appears formal, became increasingly delicate after the start of the conflict, and especially the closure, one after the other, of European embassies, as well as those of other NATO countries ( United States, Canada, Turkey). In the end, Bela Marton remained the only diplomat stationed in the capital for several weeks. He confided in Hungarian colleagues, particularly on a daily basis Hungarian Nation, of often difficult work in a capital increasingly faced with military pressure, of the art of the Gaddafi regime's hideouts.

The pressure of the mountain

In the capital, the pressure did not come so much from what was happening in the east, in Benghazi. “ The most important was when the northern mountains rallied to the guerrillas. This cut the umbilical cord, blocking the way to Tunisia. As long as this road worked, the regime and supply of Tripoli was then possible. » When this road was cut, it was no longer possible. In Tripoli, from what the ambassador was able to see, the damage remains limited. “ There are a few places that have obviously been devastated. ". But everything suggests that this is the result of targeted attacks. I witness the airstrikes being carried out with incredible precision, where everything is apparently done to avoid civilian targets. » An area where the Gaddafi regime is not stingy with resources or the art of trickery, according to our diplomat.

The art of Gaddafi's hideout

“Taking advantage of the summer break – he says – Gaddafi's men installed anti-aircraft guns in an empty school and fired on the airport. The regime's military officials often installed stockpiles of weapons on rural farms.. And, when they were targeted, official propaganda took over claiming that " they were civilian targets. Afterwards we could show goats, camels, next to a bombed church”. The military devices were hidden. Recently, for example, a military command post had been installed in the seaside villa of a friend of Gaddafi which was then bombarded.

The danger of armed groups

During the day, the local Libyan staff could walk around the city, " without much worry. And I got into the habit of going out alone. On the other hand, in the evening and at dusk, problems could arise. There were so many armed groups that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish who was who: military uniforms, police officers, and so-called “volunteers” from civil society. » Anyone could get guns, ammo, just sign up. “Such people were found wearing a simple T-shirt with a green armband in support of Gaddafi. De such unstable conditions have facilitated the development of a new method of flight. Some groups arrested foreigners, seized your car, your credit card, your money and your passport. (…) It was actually advisable to stop when asked.”

An emergency consular service

All the while, the consular service worked as it could ". Due to lack of telephone, people presented themselves directly. Often with real problems, particularly for families who arrived because the child had not been registered on the birth register and did not have papers to leave the country. In addition to many Hungarians, they presented themselves “Italians, Greeks » and even non-EU members. An Albanian doctor introduced himself. “ We helped him. It’s a question of solidarity” He explains.

But no political dialogue

The diplomat maintained a " almost daily contact » with the European External Action Service. But he specifies: “ We were not participating in political dialogue. This was the role of Me Ashton, of the EU leaders, of Ban Ki Moon at the UN. Of course, Libyan leaders sought to take advantage of the situation to exploit the potential of this canal. But we always told them that: Our main task is humanitarian assistance » And that it is not up to us to discuss these questions... Even if messages were sent to Budapest, Brussels (High Representative) or New York (UN).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).