Thank you Nicolas. And thank you for the way that you have organised this conference today and chaired it together with me. Last time we met here in Paris, Qadhafi’s tanks were at the gates of Benghazi and Qadhafi was openly vowing to hunt down and kill his own people, as he called it, ‘like rats’. A massacre loomed. Five months later, the Libyan people have taken their country back. Across Libya, millions of Libyans are enjoying Eid for the first time free of a vicious dictatorship. We are here today to show our strong solidarity with the Libyan people.
I am proud of what British forces did together with our allies, and Nicolas rightly singles out the Qataris, the Emiratis and the Jordanians who played such an important role. And we shouldn’t forget, as well, the vital role the Americans played too as part of NATO’s mission to protect people of Libya from Qadhafi’s murderous attacks. But let us be clear, it is the Libyan people who have liberated Libya. The citizens of Misrata who stood out against a murderous siege; the people of Zawiya who faced overwhelming odds but came back to rid their city of Qadhafi’s forces; the fighters of the Jabal Nafusa who took shelter from Qadhafi’s rockets in their ancestors’ caves but then who fought back to liberate Tripoli; and, of course, the people of Benghazi who threw off oppression in their city. We pay tribute to your bravery and to the many who have lost their lives or have been injured.
But, as Nicolas has said, the struggle is not yet over. So we are making three important commitments here today in Paris. First, NATO and our allies will continue our operations to implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 for as long as we are needed to protect civilian life.
Second, the nations here today have pledged a commitment to international law, justice and accountability. Freedom in Tripoli is bringing to light evidence of unspeakable crimes: unarmed people shot, people burned, people tortured - our thoughts should be with all those who are suffering. And we must be clear these crimes must be investigated and the guilty brought to justice. I know that is the commitment of the National Transitional Council and it must be the commitment of the world and Britain will provide its support.
Third, the conference has pledged to support Chairman Abdul Jalil and the National Transitional Council in their clearly stated aim to achieve a Libyan-led inclusive and democratic political transition. Some people warned - as Qadhafi himself did - that the Libyan people could not be trusted with freedom; that without Qadhafi there would be chaos. Some people thought that chaos would start the moment the regime fell so what we’re seeing emerging now in Libya, despite the years of repression and the trauma of recent days and months, is immensely impressive. Enormous difficulties lie ahead of course but Libyans are showing the world their courage, their spirit and their resilience. They are coming together to tackle shortages of water and power; hospitals are reopening. The NTC leaders have also been clear and consistent in cautioning against disorder and against reprisals - something Chairman Jalil said again this evening. That message goes out loud and clear from our meeting today.
More than 60 nations here have pledged their continued support for the NTC in this transition and we in Britain will continue to play our part, giving back the assets that belong to the Libyan people starting this week with £1 billion of dinars of bank notes held in Britain; helping with support to the agencies supplying water to Tripoli and medicines to the hospitals. These are our commitments today.
They are right because we cannot afford a failed pariah state on Europe’s borders. They are right because we will all lose if the Arab Spring gives way to a cynical winter of repression and they are right because the Libyan people deserve our support. And it is an honour to work together with all those here today, especially as I said, the Qataris, the Emiratis, the Jordanians but particularly Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril who have worked so hard in the National Transitional Council. And also with President Sarkozy who’s done so much to bring together this coalition that has combined East and West, North and South; Muslim, Christian - many others together in this coalition. It is, I believe, on the brink of success. Thank you.