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Libya stops EU visas - Borg in contact with Libyan minister

Maltese travellers stopped at Tripoli airport

Foreign Minister Tonio Borg has been in touch with Libyan European Affairs Minister Obeidi and had also asked the European Commission to intervene after Libya suspended the granting of entry visas to Schengen area travellers, including those from Malta, because of a dispute with Switzerland.

The Foreign Ministry said 19 Maltese were stopped at Tripoli airport and refused entry to Libya.

Libya has been locked for months in a diplomatic row with Switzerland over the prosecution of two Swiss businessmen who had been working in the North African country.

However the Maltese Foreign Ministry said this afternoon that the dispute erupted after Switzerland objected to the granting of Schengen visas to 180 Libyan nationals, including some VIPs. This means that full Schengen visas cannot be issued to these persons by any country which is part of the Schengen Visa System.

MALTESE STOPPED AT TRIPOLI AIRPORT

The Foreign Ministry said it was urging Maltese travellers to consult the Libyan Embassy in Malta prior to travelling to Libya.

The ministry said that 19 Maltese persons together with Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Austrians and Greeks citizens were not allowed to leave the airport upon their arrival in Tripoli last night.

The Maltese Embassy in Tripoli made arrangements for 14 Maltese nationals to be given permission to leave the airport.

The ministry said that Foreign Minister Tonio Borg was in touch with Libyan European Affairs Minister Obeidi and had also asked the European Commission to intervene in this matter, particularly if it resulted that the insertion by the Swiss authorities of people to be refused a visa was not in accordance with the Schengen acquis.

The European Commission deplored the Libyan action, describing it as unilateral and disproportionate. It also regretted that travellers who legally obtained visas before the suspension measure were refused entry when arriving in Libya.

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