Bonn (Dec. 28)
Col. Muammar Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, will visit West Germany next year, probably in May. The invitation, extended by the German-Arab Association for Friendship, was announced by a member of that group, Juergen Moellemann, who is foreign policy spokesman for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the junior partner in the coalition government headed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Moellemann said, after talks this week with senior Libyan officials that Tripoli is eager to improve relations with the Federal Republic. He praised the Qaddafi regime for seeking international political and economic cooperation. Libya is West Germany’s second largest supplier of oil.
Moellemann has carried out several delicate missions in the Arab world said to have been coordinated with the FDP’s leader, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Last year he visited Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafar and subsequently made strong anti-Israel remarks. Although the Foreign Ministry said Moellemann made the trip on his own initiative, it picked up the bill for two ambulances promised by him to the PLO leader.
Political observers here are speculating whether Genscher was backing Moellemann’s invitation to Qaddafi which is favored by the business community. Improved relations with Libya would help German industry secure more contracts from Libya. According to Moellemann, West Germany could also serve as a mediator between Libya and the United States, since it has good relations with both countries. American relations with Libya have worsened in recent weeks, since the Reagan Administration accused Qaddafi of sponsoring assassination squads to kill President Reagan and other top U.S. officials.
SEEN AS A TRIAL BALLOON
Moellemann’s outspokenly pro-Arab position has been interpreted here as a trial balloon to test West German opinion with respect to improving relations with the Arabs. His invitation to Qaddafi, however, was assailed by scores of West German newspapers last week. The Libyan leader is to attend a symposium on German-Arab relations.
The influential Frankfurter Allgemeine observed that the invitation was extended at a time when anti-American sentiments are running high in the Federal Republic, especially in the “peace movement” and could cause a further setback in Bonn’s relations with Washington.
Qaddafi planned to visit West Germany two years ago but had to cancel his trip when Libya’s role in promoting international terrorism was exposed. He did visit the country privately for medical treatment at the Mainz clinic. His presence was kept secret until well after his departure and was never acknowledged officially.
Meanwhile, West German real estate experts have reported a “tremendous” increase in the activities in the real estate market here by the Arab oil-pro-
ducing states, particularly those in the Persian Gulf area. No specific information was made public but local newspapers were told that “entire streets” in certain areas have changed ownership in recent weeks.
The phenomenon is understood to be part of an ongoing trend by the Arab oil states to invest in Germany’s capital market which is considered relatively stable despite the nation’s economic crisis and increased unemployment. One expert said the Arab investors were taking advantage of the real estate market which has come to a virtual standstill because of high interest rates
Real estate in German cities was considered an unattractive area for Arab investment in the past. No major investments were registered in residential areas, in sharp contrast to Arab real estate purchases in Paris and London.
One reason for the current Arab interest in Germany’s capital market and in its economy generally, according to analysts, is the improved political relations between Bonn and major Arab countries, including Libya.