Malta will be investing heavily to boost its diplomatic and consular presence in Libya in the coming months and has already acquired more than €1 million in EU funding for this purpose.

According to a plan devised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malta will have three representative and consular offices in Libya.

Apart from the head office in Tripoli and the more recent temporary office in Benghazi, opened after the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, Malta is planning to open a new office in Misurata – Libya’s third city – that will issue visas and offer other consular services.

The Times understands that the Europ-ean Commission has approved a first Maltese application for assistance under the European Border Fund specifically for this project. A second application is currently being evaluated.

“Brussels has acknowledged Malta’s role to act as a bridge between the EU and Libya and has already given the green light for this plan to materialise,” sources close to the Commission said.

On its part, the Foreign Ministry has started implementing its plan and recently issued public calls to acquire new premises for its Benghazi offices and upgrade its facilities in Tripoli. A ministry spokesman said that, following the Libyan conflict, Malta’s office in Tripoli sustained major damage and required a total overhaul.

At the same time, since Malta’s consulate in Benghazi was operating from a small office with limited space and resources, “a good portion of the funds given by the EU will be used to purchase a new property in Benghazi and refurbish it up to Schengen standards”.

The spokesman added that the new office would strengthen Malta’s capacity and efficiency in issuing visas.

It would be equipped with top security features as the area was considered to be high-risk. Benghazi is already linked with Malta through direct flights operated by Air Malta. Hundreds of visas are issued every month from this office for foreigners travelling to Malta.

“The planned Misurata branch will be of the same level as those operating in Tripoli and Benghazi and will deal with the heavy demand we already have from the area for the issuance of visas,” the spokesman said.

Malta was one of the first European countries to resume offering diplomatic and consular services from Libya after the civil war.

The plan should also facilitate business contacts between Malta and Libya, which are picking up considerably.

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