July 22, 2020
Turkey on Wednesday announced that it agreed with Russia that the Libyan conflict would not be resolved through military means and that it could only be settled through a UN-facilitated, Libyan-led-and-owned political process. In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the two countries would continue joint efforts, including encouraging the Libyan sides to the conflict, to create "conditions for a lasting and sustainable ceasefire."
The ministry said that in high-level consultations, Ankara and Moscow agreed to facilitate the "advancement of the intra-Libyan political dialogue" in line with the 2020 Berlin Conference on Libya and in coordination with the UN. In January, a conference took place in the German capital Berlin in order to start a political process and reach a permanent cease-fire in Libya. Global powers and regional actors expressed commitment to support a cease-fire, respect arms embargo and support the UN-facilitated political process.
The two countries will call on the Libyan parties to take measures for the "safe humanitarian access and delivery of urgent assistance to all those in need" and will "consider" creating a Joint Working Group on Libya. It added that they would convene the next round of consultations in Moscow in "the near future." Reaffirming their "strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya," they underlined the necessity to "combat terrorist individuals and entities."
They also reaffirmed their determination to continue talks to achieve security and stability in the North African country and improve the humanitarian situation there. Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the UAE, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition. Libya's legitimate government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, and more than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence. Haftar has the support of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia while the UN-recognized government is backed by Turkey.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the restoration of the Libyan territorial integrity as "the ultimate goal" of the Libya settlement. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, following a meeting with his Algerian counterpart Sabri Boukadoum, Lavrov said as long as the Libyans are split, there will always be risks that external players will bet on one or the other side. "The situation in the country demands to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table and to help them find a solution, respecting the interests of all Libyan people," the minister said.
Russia works with all parties to the conflict as well as the neighboring countries and external players to rebuild the Libyan statehood, Lavrov pointed out. "Russia assigns the most active role to Libya's neighbors, including Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, because security in these countries depends on how successfully the conflict is resolved," the minister said. In turn, Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum said political dialogue is "the only way to resolve the crisis in Libya".
"There is no military solution to this conflict and there will be no military solution. We have confirmed the most important aspect - the unity of Libya and the territorial integrity of Libya. The only way to resolve the crisis is through political dialogue. The integrity and sovereignty of the Libyan state must be respected and political dialogue must be taken as the main principle," he said.
Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya's new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Since April 2019, Haftar's forces launched attacks on Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths.
Libya’s UN-recognized government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter these attacks, and recently liberated strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase and the western city of Tarhuna. The Libyan government has recently achieved significant victories against Haftar, pushing his forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhuna.