Politics, World

Berlin summit should ensure Libya truce: Turkish leader

Turkish President Erdogan, Russian counterpart Putin meet in Berlin before international conference on Libya

Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak and Elena Teslova   | 19.01.2020
Berlin summit should ensure Libya truce: Turkish leader Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) within the Berlin Conference on Libyan peace in Berlin, Germany on January 19, 2020. ( Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Handout - Anadolu Agency )


Ahead of Sunday’s Libya conference in Berlin, Turkey’s president told his Russian counterpart that the meeting should ensure a cease-fire and political dialogue for peace in Libya. 

“It should be ensured that a cease-fire and return to the political process are agreed on at the Berlin summit in order for Libya to attain peace and calm,” Erdogan said in Berlin during the televised part of his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan added: “[Warlord Khalifa] Haftar's aggressive attitudes must end to implement the phase of political processes and solution [in Libya].”

He also said: “Joint efforts on Libya provided relative calm in the field but our initiatives will reap fruits with the Berlin conference.” 

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar’s in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition. 

Erdogan also praised developments in Turkish-Russian relations in 2019, from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems to the TurkStream gas pipeline project launched this month by the two leaders. 

Last year, after years of unsuccessful efforts with Western countries, Turkey bought Russian S-400 defense systems to protect its skies from missile attacks. 

TurkStream has a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, out of which the first line will carry a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, and the second will carry another 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe via Turkey. 

Historic centennial

Erdogan also said marking the 100th anniversary of Turkish-Russian relations in the modern era this year can be declared a “mutual historical year.” 

Putin, for his part, said that Moscow and Ankara set an example in finding common ground.

"We have really forged very good, constructive, trusting relations in almost all areas where we work. Dialogue is always difficult and business-like. However, we have learned to negotiate, to seek and find compromises acceptable to both sides. In my opinion, this is a very good example of constructive cooperation between neighbors," said Putin. 

"We are indeed working very effectively in many key areas of international policy, especially regional ones. I am referring to Syria, everything related to the Iranian nuclear program, and, of course, resolution of the Libyan conflict,” he added.

He praised the two countries’ efforts to establish a cease-fire in Libya, saying Russia and Turkey took good steps, and called on the warring sides to abide by the truce.

This Monday’s Moscow meeting on Libya could not solve everything, he said, as one side has yet to join the agreement, but it is necessary to move forward.

“We have not lost hope that the dialogue will continue, and we will sincerely strive to ensure that the conflict is resolved,” said Putin.

The close-door meeting between Erdogan and Putin lasted for almost an hour before they proceeded to the Berlin conference. 

Upon arriving in Berlin for the conference, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We need to move on and bring Libya under the UN... We want to have a UN-led peace process to stop this jockeying for position. The people of Libya have suffered enough; it is time for the country to move forward." 

Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli had been under attack by the warlord Haftar since last April, and fighting over the last nine months killed more than 1,000 people. 

On Jan. 12, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to a joint call by Turkish and Russian leaders. 

But last Monday talks for a permanent cease-fire deal ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal. 

In the wake of the Moscow talks, Germany invited world powers and regional actors to a conference in Berlin on Sunday in a bid to thrash out a lasting cease-fire deal and pave the way for a political solution in Libya. 

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