A passenger ferry set sail from the Libyan port of Misrata to Turkey’s Izmir province on the Aegean coast for the first time in 40 years on Wednesday.
Libya has not been serviced by any international ferries for 25 years.
Travel links with and within the country were severely disrupted by the 2011 revolt that overthrew longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and years of unrest which followed.
During Gadhafi’s rule, from 1969, the country was under sanctions and largely closed to tourists.
The revived crossing to Turkey is operated by Libyan company Kevalay. It should take 48 hours and the vessel is set to return on Dec. 7.
“We have deals to launch other links, including with Egypt and Tunisia,” said Taha Hadid, an official at the port of Misrata, Libya’s third largest city.
Misrata, about 200 kilometers 125 miles east of Tripoli, is home to numerous Turkish businesses.
Air travel has also begun to return.
Airports were heavily damaged in Libya’s fighting and many air links were suspended, but some have resumed since an October 2020 cease-fire between the internationally-recognized government, supported by Turkey, and the putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s forces, supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.
In November 2019, Turkey and Libya signed a maritime delimitation deal that provided a legal framework to prevent any fait accompli by regional states. Accordingly, attempts by the Greek government to appropriate huge parts of Libya’s continental shelf, when a political crisis hit the North African country in 2011, were averted.
The agreement also confirmed that Turkey and Libya are maritime neighbors.The delimitation starts from Fethiye-Marmaris-Kaş on Turkey’s southwestern coast and extends to the Derna-Tobruk-Bordia coastline of Libya.