Turkey

'Turkey, Italy work for lasting peace in Libya'

Turkey, Italy to continue working for lasting peace, efficient political process in Libya, says Turkish foreign minister

Omer Tugrul Cam and Behlul Cetinkaya   | 19.06.2020
'Turkey, Italy work for lasting peace in Libya' Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Foreign Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio (L) hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on June 19, 2020. ( Fatih Aktas - Anadolu Agency )

ANKARA

Turkey and Italy will continue working for a lasting peace and an efficient political process in Libya, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday.

Turkish and Italian foreign ministers met in the capital Ankara to discuss regional issues, including Libya and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as bilateral relations.

After the meeting, Cavusoglu and Luigi Di Maio held a press conference.

"We are aware of the critical role Italy has played. We thank them. They played a balanced role," Cavusoglu said. 

He said Italy, unlike some EU countries, has not taken sides with the putschist Khalifa Haftar in Libya.

"Italy has made sincere efforts for a cease-fire and political process," he said.

Cavusoglu said Turkey would like to see Italy on other platforms about Libya and this request has been conveyed to Russia and other countries.

'Italy wants sustainable cease-fire'

Di Maio said Italy wants a sustainable cease-fire in Libya.

"Libya should no longer be a security threat to Europe and Italy. For this, a political solution must be found," he said. 

Referring to the territorial integrity of Libya, Di Maio said it should not be led to armed conflicts that will cause divisions in the country. 

"So the special representative of the UN secretary-general should be appointed as soon as possible," he said. 

On Operation IRINI, he said Italy contributes to the operation with naval and air forces, with an aim to end the armed conflict in Libya. 

He also said EU countries did not do exactly what they have to do, and Italian ships have newly been commissioned. 

Responding to a question on the success of the operation, Di Maio said he cannot say the operation has been an exact solution but it can be an important step for complying with the embargo. 

On March 31, EU foreign ministers approved the launch of Operation IRINI. The mission aims to operate in the air, sea and with satellites to ensure that all countries respect the ban on providing arms to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict. 

EU forces will also watch for illegal oil exports, prevent human trafficking and contribute to the training of the local coast guard and navy as a complementary task. 

Last November, Turkey and Libya signed landmark pacts on military cooperation as well as boundaries in the Mediterranean.

Under the deal, Turkey has sent advisers to help the Libyan army defeat the militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The Libyan army recently inflicted heavy blows on Haftar and liberated the capital Tripoli and Tarhuna, in addition to other strategic locations, including Al-Watiya airbase, from his militias.

The internationally recognized Libyan government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.

* Writing by Fahri Aksut.

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