Turkey believes that Tunisia will contribute to efforts to promote stability in its eastern neighbor Libya, Turkey’s president said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied during a surprise visit to the capital Tunis, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the turmoil in Libya is affecting not just itself but also neighboring countries like Tunisia.
'I believe Tunisia will make valuable and constructive contributions to efforts to achieve stability in Libya,” Erdogan said.
He also said that during his visit, he and Saied discussed steps to start a political process after a cease-fire in Libya, and how Tunisia might help.
About the maritime and military support deals Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) signed on Nov. 27, Erdogan touched on the possibility of Turkish forces going to Libya if the GNA asks, saying that Turkey never went anywhere without an invitation.
“If there is an invitation, we will think about that,” he explained.
Erdogan said Turkey is taking steps with the UN-recognized GNA led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
Erdogan dismissed the eastern Libya-based Khalifa Haftar -- rival to the Government of National Accord -- saying that it “lacks qualifications” and that “we should not let our brothers in Libya be persecuted by” Haftar’s military forces.
Citing the presence of 5,000 Sudanese and 2,000 Russian soldiers in Libya, Erdogan asked what they are doing there.
On the Berlin process meant to end the conflict in Libya, Erdogan said Algeria, Tunisia and Qatar should have been involved to the process as they know Libya’s sociopolitical structure well.
Since September, several high-level meetings known as the Berlin peace process were held in the German capital to put an end to the conflict.
Saied, for his part, said that he and Erdogan discussed the issue of Libya in detail.
Cooperation on health and agriculture as well as economic, social and political issues were also discussed, Saied said.
“The memorandum of understanding signed between Turkey and Libya determines the [maritime] boundaries between the two countries. This is an issue between the two countries. It does not cover Tunisia,” Saied added.
On Nov. 27, Ankara and Tripoli’s GNA signed two separate agreements, one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Since the ouster of late leader Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in the capital Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
By Sibel Morrow