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Russian FM to take part in Berlin conference on Libya

Lavrov will take part in Berlin conference on Libya on Jan. 19

Elena Teslova   | 17.01.2020
Russian FM to take part in Berlin conference on Libya


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the Berlin conference on the Libyan settlement on Jan.19, he said at an annual news conference in Moscow on Friday. 

He will hold a meeting with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio prior to the principal event, Lavrov added.

Lavrov also said he expects the talks to be difficult, and characterized the relations between the warring sides as "very tense", adding that efforts of many countries are needed to persuade them to start a political dialogue.

"The more countries take part [in peace efforts on Libya], the better. It is not easy to persuade these people, we have to unite our powers. The relations are very tense, they don't even want to be in the same room, let alone speaking to each other," Lavrov said.

Lavrov praised the cease-fire that the Libyan sides declared on Jan.12, as "a certain step forward" in the Libyan settlement.

The final document for the Berlin meeting is almost agreed on, he said, urging both sides to avoid setting additional conditions after the end of the conference.

The Skhirat agreement is a good starting point, containing the basic principles for the launch of the political process, he stressed, and added that the agreements, achieved in Abu Dhabi, Paris and Palermo, are also "useful".

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar 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 other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

On Jan. 12, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to the call of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, the sides in the Libyan conflict gathered in the Russian capital Moscow to discuss a cease-fire meant to end the hostilities in Libya and start a political dialogue, but Haftar rejected to sign the deal and he left the meeting after al-Sarraj signed the deal.   

Syria: Progress in all directions

Referring to the Syrian crisis, Lavrov said there has been progress "in almost all directions," including military, diplomatic, political and humanitarian.

The economic restoration is delayed, because the sanctions imposed on the country are hindering the process, and "some countries" change their positions depending on the situation, said Lavrov.

He added that these countries first promised to lift the sanctions with the start of the political process, but when it started, they said it was necessary to wait for the concrete results.

He also announced the visit of the UN's Special Envoy on Syria Geir Pedersen to Moscow and Damascus next week, aiming to push the political process.

"I hope the talks and his trips and contacts with the Syrian leadership will allow us to set a schedule for the future work of the Constitutional Committee," he said.  


Lavrov said he had received reports saying the SDF, an offshoot of the terrorist YPG/PKK group, was freeing captured terrorists for "remuneration".

"Information is coming in, and we are now checking it, that for a certain remuneration, so-called Syrian Democratic Forces are releasing bandits who are beginning to settle in other parts of the Syrian territory," he said.

The top diplomat said they had warned the U.S. about the need to keep an eye on the working of the SDF.

The principal goal of defeating terrorism in Syria has been reached, Lavrov said.

But the terrorists continue to launch attacks "primarily in the Idlib de-escalation zone and on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River".

"There are about 10,000 fighters in camps controlled by the SDF, these are mainly Kurdish [YPG/PKK] units," the minister said.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.  

Breakthrough achievements

Lavrov praised improved Russian-Turkish relations which resulted in eight meetings during the course of 2019.

The year 2020 started from the launch of the joint TurkStream project, he recalled.

"We consider this to be a natural result of hard but consistently effective work with Turkey. Both our countries are really interested in building up bilateral relations based on consideration of each other's interests and mutual respect.

Progress in Russian-Turkish cooperation is largely due to the continued growth of trade and economic ties. 

"In this regard, Turkey is one of our key partners. Thus, in January-October 2019, the mutual trade turnover increased by 2.5%, reaching $21.7 billion," he said, adding that he expected a new record on number of Russian tourists who visited Turkey in 2019 to be announced soon. 

The minister named cooperation between the foreign and military services of Russia and Turkey on the Syrian settlement as among key issues on the agenda of Russian diplomacy. Russia, Iran and Turkey played a significant role in summoning the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, he added.

Lavrov praised Turkish commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Libyan conflict, praising Ankara's efforts on organizing a multilateral conference on Libya under the UN auspices.

"We confirm our readiness to further exchange views with the Turkish side and coordinate the efforts of our countries in order to advance the political process and de-escalate tensions in this country," he said.

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