Germany on Thursday backed a UN call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Libya in order to prevent an escalation in the country towards a full-scale civil war.
“UN special envoy Salame has called for a humanitarian ceasefire, and we fully support this,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a joint news conference in Berlin with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.
Maas renewed Germany’s call on eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar to immediately stop his offensive on the capital city of Tripoli.
“Anyone who believes that he can force a decision with a military offensive is in fact living an illusion. And the international community should make this very clear,” he said, adding that such military steps would only undermine a political solution and risk the lives of innocent people.
Al Thani underlined that Germany’s taking over of the UN Security Council presidency this month has further increased Berlin’s role for peace and stability in the region.
“We have discussed how Germany, during its UN Security Council presidency, can contribute efforts to prevent a further escalation in Libya and help return to the political process,” he said.
Al Thani criticized commander Haftar for escalating the conflict in Libya by launching a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-backed government.
“We will continue to support the Government of National Accord,” he said.
Commander Haftar announced last week that his forces are launching a military campaign to capture Tripoli.
The Libyan capital saw renewed clashes on Thursday between Haftar’s forces and forces loyal to Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.
Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in eastern Libya, with which strongman Khalifa Haftar is associated, and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN support.
By Ayhan Simsek in Berlin