Berlin summit will have little impact on change in Libya, says former Turkish ambassador

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The Berlin summit on Libya and its final declaration will have little impact in changing the status quo in Libya, vis-à-vis the positions of Russia, Turkey and the warring sides, Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States Faruk Loğoğlu told Ahval.

The summit, which took place on Sunday and aimed to end Libya’s bitter civil war, concluded with a pledge to end the flow of weapons into the war-torn country. Representatives from each side of the conflict also vowed to create military councils that will convene to discuss a longer-lasting ceasefire in Libya.

“Only a Libyan-led and Libyan owned political process can end the conflict and bring lasting peace,” the declaration issued after the summit said.

According to Loğoğlu, despite the call for a ceasefire, there is none in place, nor any “concrete steps from Berlin in terms of a ceasefire agreement.”

“Despite the declaration, it is very unlikely that Russia will give up its advantageous position,” the former ambassador added, and that none of the participating countries made a significant change to their national positions.

“Ankara has a lot of hard work in the wake of the Berlin Conference,” he said.

Libya has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014, with the UN-recognised GNA currently controlling Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, and a parallel administration holding the east, supported by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar has waged a military campaign against the GNA since April.

Fayez Sarraj, the prime minister of the GNA, is supported by Turkey and Qatar, while General Khalifa Haftar, the self-styled leader of the LNA, enjoys a wider array of support from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia.

World leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came together in a summit in the German capital on Sunday, with the aim to broker a permanent ceasefire in the war-torn north African country.

“The declaration emphasises that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Libya,” Loğoğlu said, pointing to a political solution “with assistance from the international community.”

The declaration is a very comprehensive document composed of 55 articles addressing various aspects of the Libyan question, Loğoğlu said, adding, “The UN has been given a primary role in the follow-up of both the military and political aspects’’.

Article 25 in the declaration called for the establishment of a functioning presidential council and a unified government approved by the House of Representatives.

“This House of Representatives has taken a clear stance with Haftar and against Turkey,” Loğoğlu said, “and Turkey signed off on this, as well as on no foreign intervention and the call for an arms embargo.”

Participants of the summit agreed to respect the arms embargo on Libya and to provide no further military support to the warring parties, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the summit.

Listing the good and best wishes of the international community is not enough to bring about peace and stability, Loğoğlu said, as Libya’s rival leaders Haftar and Sarraj did not even enter the same room on Sunday.

The Turkish parliament had recently passed a bill to send troops to Libya, and was rumoured to have sent Syrian mercenaries to the country. Erdoğan on Monday said Turkey had to date only sent “a cadre of trainers and advisers.”

Turkey ramped up its involvement in Libya after signing deals with the Tripoli government in November that also lend weight to Turkey’s claim to jurisdiction over an expansive area of the eastern Mediterranean that overlaps with Greek and Cypriot claims. Erdoğan repeated “a pledge to protect the Libyan government from coup plotters” in his op-ed published last week.

President Erdoğan left Berlin without attending a dinner with summit participants. “He just opted not to stay for the dinner,” Russian news agency Tass quoted an unnamed source in Erdoğan’s office as saying.

It is unfortunate that Erdoğan did not attend the closing dinner because Haftar and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi were there, according to Loğoğlu.

“He should have attended and defended the interests of the country,” the former ambassador said.

Ahval

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