Turkish FM visits Libya with Maltese counterpart

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Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Tripoli on Aug. 6 with his Maltese counterpart Evarist Bartolo and made a call for cooperation for Libya, emphasizing that the crisis has not been resolved in the war-torn country despite current calmness on the field.

“Even though there is no official ceasefire, there is calmness on the ground. Cooperation is important since the problem is not solved, despite having stillness on the field. The EU should give strong support and take concrete steps,” he told reporters.

A delegation from Libya will arrive in Turkey next week for talks on Turkish companies’ claims and backlogs from Libya, he also stated.

On Aug. 5 Çavuşoğlu paid a working visit to Malta and addressed bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues. Çavuşoğlu also met EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Malta and discussed Turkish-EU relations as well as regional matters.

The Turkish and Maltese ministers then visited Libya and met the officials of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey urges diplomacy to reach a truce in Libya and diplomatic efforts are underway for Libyan cities of Sirte and Jufra to be handed over to the GNA.

Although the ceasefire has not been officially declared, the GNA has expectations to meet the basic needs of the people and to receive municipal services, he said noting that they discussed how support for economic development be enabled and how Turkey and Libya can enhance economic relations.

Turkish companies had investments in Libya in the past and they have unfinished investments receivables, the minister said, adding that a delegation from the Libyan ministry of planning will visit Turkey as part of a work carried out by a commission on these issues.

He also criticized Germany’s decision to send a warship to the Eastern Mediterranean for control purposes, emphasizing that this was not the right approach and said Berlin has taken this decision over “pressure” staged by France.

“The developments here are reflected in Europe, especially the Mediterranean belt. The border with Europe needs to be further strengthened. Europeans are looking at the issue saying, ‘illegal immigrants do not come to us,’ but Libya struggles with illegal immigration in the south of the country. There are more than 800,000 illegal immigrants in Libya. We support the fight against illegal immigration,” he stated.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The U.N. recognizes the government headed by al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as it has battled warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias – with the support of Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and France – since April 2019 in a conflict that has taken more than 1,000 lives.

Turkey – a steadfast supporter of Libya’s legitimate government – has taken issue with EU member France’s support for Haftar.

Turkey has also said that an EU operation to enforce an arms embargo on Libya is ineffective and selective, as it fails to intercept arms from Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and others

The GNA signed security and maritime agreements with Turkey last year, with Ankara’s military support including drones that helped it re-impose control over Libya’s northwest.

Hurriyet Daily News

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