ANKARA, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Libya will ensure Turkish firms forced to abandon their work during the Libyan revolution two years ago are paid and will offer incentives for them to return, the two country’s prime ministers said on Wednesday.
Turkish construction firms are heavily active in countries across the Middle East and North Africa but were forced to put projects on hold in Libya during the revolt that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he had discussed the question of compensation with his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan during the Libyan prime minister’s trip to Ankara.
“(Zeidan) said they will solve the issues about progress payments and compensation with our ministers,” Erdogan told a joint news conference.
“We said we wish our construction companies to go back to Libya to complete their unfinished projects. We are pleased to see the same desire from Libya.”
Erdogan has presided over Turkey’s emergence as a power in the Middle East over the past decade and championed the pro-democracy uprisings of the “Arab Spring”, which saw dictatorships unseated in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
His government is keen to position Turkey, whose construction sector is heavily engaged in frontier and emerging markets in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as a key player in rebuilding the region’s post-conflict economies.
Zeidan said he had met several Turkish companies and had promised Libya would make progress payments and ensure firms were fully compensated once their work was completed.
Turkey evacuated some 3,000 of its nationals from Libya in February 2011 as violence engulfed the North African country, many of them working for construction firms which had more than $15 billion worth of projects there.
Erdogan said Turkey’s trade volume with Libya currently stood at around $2.5 billion, a level both countries were keen to increase. (Reporting by Seltem Iyigun; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Ron Askew)