The permanent cease-fire agreement between Libya’s warring parties announced Friday “does not seem to be reliable,” according to Turkey’s president.
"The cease-fire agreement is not one at the highest level. Time will show how long it will persist at a lower level," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters following Friday prayers in Istanbul.
Comparing it to humanitarian truces in the current Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes, Erdogan said that Armenia breached the cease-fires and failed to keep their promises.
"I hope that doesn’t happen here and this [Libyan] cease-fire decision will be followed," he said.
Earlier Friday, the UN special envoy on Libya announced the signing of a cease-fire agreement between the delegations of the country’s two main warring sides.
Stephanie Turcos Williams, who heads the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said the Libyan parties reached an agreement for a “permanent” cease-fire in all areas of the country.
As the parties were signing the agreement, the UNSMIL released a statement, saying: “Good news for Libyans.”
“The 5 + 5 Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva today culminate in a historic achievement as Libyan teams reach a permanent cease-fire agreement across Libya. This achievement is an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya,” it added.
Asked about recent developments in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, Erdogan said Turkey has as much right as Russia to play a role in negotiating to reach peace between the two countries.
He reiterated that Turkey is also among the members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US – which was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail.
Azerbaijan has made the “justified demand that if Armenia proposes Russia [take part in peace talks], we also propose Turkey. It says that Turkey along with Russia should take place in border security and peace negotiations," said Erdogan.
Erdogan stressed that Russia has not raised any objections to Turkey taking part.
Turkey and Russia continue to work together to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, as well as the Syria and Libya issues, he said.
Since clashes erupted on Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating two humanitarian cease-fires in the past two weeks.
The latest humanitarian truce in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, came into force last Saturday.
Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly, as well as international organizations, demand the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territory.
In total, about 20% of Azerbaijan's territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
Touching on recent rises in coronavirus cases in Turkey, Erdogan called on the public to follow safety measures and avoid crowded places.
"Mask, distance, hygiene,” he urged.
Erdogan said that in light of advice from Turkey’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, “We will take our steps. We’re determined, we’re in a much better position than the West, but it’s not enough."
Earlier, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the number of coronavirus cases in the metropolis of Istanbul makes up 40% of the nationwide toll, and five times the number of cases in the capital Ankara.
According to the latest official data, the overall coronavirus patient count in Turkey currently stands at 355,528. The virus has killed 9,584 people to date, while 310,027 people have recovered.
Russian S-400 missile defense systems
Asked about reports of tests of the Russian-made S-400 air defense systems in the Black Sea province of Sinop, despite US concerns, Erdogan confirmed the reports, adding: "We’re not going to ask the US about this. We’re testing not only the S-400, but also many light, medium and heavy weapons."
He stressed that weapons Turkey purchased from the US were also among the tests.
The tests will continue, he said.
"Greece has [Russian] S-300s in its hands. It's using these weapons, not just testing them. Is the US questioning or saying anything there?" Erdogan said, underlining Turkey’s resolve to stay its course.
On Oct. 16, the US Defense Department said that if the reports of testing are true, it "strongly condemns the test."
"We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship," spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said, calling the S-400 system "a barrier to progress elsewhere in the bilateral relationship."
The US officially removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in July 2019 over Ankara's decision to buy the advanced Russian anti-air system.
The US and partner nations maintain the S-400 system poses security risks to the advanced jet, maintaining Russia could covertly use it to obtain classified details on the jet, and warning it is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, has countered that the S-400 would not be integrated into any NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.