By Egemen Bağış, Former EU Minister and Chief Negotiator of Turkey-New Europe
As the new Turkish Ambassador in Prague, I am asked more and more frequently about the recent developments in Libya and the policies of EU and Turkey vis a vis this important country.
Unfortunately the humanitarian situation has worsened in Libya as effects of terrorism and irregular migration threat became more visible in Africa and Mediterranean. Things are being more complicated due to extensive military support to a self declared warlord named General Haftar continues to solicit financial and weaponry support from various countries with different motives.
The recent Turkish- Russian Joint Statement had historically important achievements. The diplomatic efforts of these two countries was a huge step forward to end the military escalation and revitalize the political process in Libya. After intense discussions with Russians at the highest level, we declared our common will to bring an end to the crisis in Libya. Presidents Putin and Erdogan agreed that there can be no military solution to the conflict and also stressed that a sustainable solution can only be achieved by a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process under UN auspices.
Aligning Russian diplomacy to a statement that highlights the Libyan Political Agreement and the UNSC Resolution 2259 is an important gain. Our support to Berlin Process is also reflected in the joint statement. The most important and impressive outcome however is the fact that responding to the call of President Erdoğan and President Putin, conflicting parties declared their commitment to a ceasefire as of January 12 and therefore Berlin summit will be a turning point in the history of Libya.
General Haftar showed his unwillingness for a political solution by rejecting the ceasefire agreement prepared by our country and Russia. On the other hand, we did our part by convincing Prime Minister Sarraj to sign the agreement. Now, the international community knows which side is willing, ready and able for a political solution in Libya.
All necessary measures need to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground and normalizing daily life in Tripoli and other cities under blockade. Turkey will continue her consultations with Russians and other interlocutors to stabilize the situation despite the setbacks caused by General Haftar. International community should pressure the relevant parties for taking de-escalatory measures on the ground.
As Hafter’s intensified offensive and foreign aid to him continue, GNA requested support from Turkey in the fight against, threats targeting Libya’s integrity and stability, DAESH, Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, as well as illegal armed groups.
Illegal migration and human smuggling from Libya might affect the whole region. Turkey aims to facilitate the ceasefire and a political solution. We will continue supporting the legitimate government in its fight against terrorism and to prevent another humanitarian crisis and migration wave.
Turkey has no objective to be involved in the domestic clashes of Libya, rather we aim to prevent any development that may drag the region into further instability and lead to additional humanitarian tragedies.
Since the onset, we tried to explain to all our counterparts that there can be no military solution in Libya. That is why we are actively contributing to the Berlin Process. Our efforts with Russia to reach a sustainable and viable ceasefire has already contributed immensely to the Berlin Process as well.
Honestly, Berlin Process had no concrete base to start a constructive dialogue before January 8th. Sincere Europeans deserve to be pleased to have something tangible before the Summit. We are confident that securing a ceasefire and starting dialogue will facilitate the political and economic pillars of the solution. Berlin Process needs to be more inclusive with Libyan neighbors. Thanks to our efforts, Algeria is finally invited. Tunisia and Qatar can also make important contributions.
As President Erdogan stated very clearly; “Road to peace in Libya goes through Turkey. Europe finds itself at a crossroads. And at this historic junction, those working for peace must be courageous and do everything in their power to end violence. Europe can count on Turkey — an old friend and loyal ally — to achieve that goal.” So it is high time for our allies to stop whining and criticizing and start supporting Turkey’s peace efforts.