By Sarantis Michalopoulos.
EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell stands ready to go to Libya and help solve the ongoing crisis between the different parties, EU spokesperson Peter Stano said on Wednesday (18 December).
Stano told EURACTIV.com that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis, adding that the cessation of hostilities and the return to political dialogue is the only viable option.
“We have and continue to fully support the UN-led mediation and the efforts by UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé to seek a political solution to the crisis in Libya,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the head of UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Faiez el-Serraj recently signed two deals: an expanded security and military accord as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on maritime zones.
The latter triggered a strong reaction from Athens, Nicosia and Cairo. In addition, the Libyan parliament has opposed the deal. Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh Issa sent an official letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying that the Turkey-Libya MoU is invalid and the Libyan House of Representatives does not recognise it.
Erdoğan has also said he would send troops to Libya to support el-Serraj, if he requests them.
“The situation in Libya remains very challenging,” Stano said.
The EU official added that the escalation of fighting has caused massive displacement of civilians and loss of human life.
“It has also threatened critical national infrastructure, including the oil fields and civilian airports,” he said.
Stano emphasised that the ongoing Berlin process is an opportunity to create a strong international consensus to end the conflict peacefully and pave the way for a Libyan-led and Libyan owned political process that the EU is ready to support and contribute to.
“High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell is in contact with all actors involved to support the UN-led mediation and UNSR Salamé’s efforts to seek a political solution to the crisis in Libya – and to support the ongoing efforts in the framework of the Berlin process,” he said.
Di Maio in Libya
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has flown to Libya, to meet the two men battling for control of the country: the head of UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) el-Serraj and the head of the Libyan National Army General Khalifa Haftar.
“Italy has lost ground in the country, we cannot deny it, but the time has come to regain our natural role as the main interlocutor, always a friend of the Libyan people,” he said.
Di Maio added that he would like to work on a second mission to Libya together with Borrell.
The leaders of Germany, Italy and France met last week on the sidelines of the EU summit to discuss the Libyan crisis. The three countries reportedly discussed the scenario of finding a “third person” to lead the peace talks.
At this week cabinet’s meeting, Italy’s government decided to establish a Special Envoy in Libya who will report directly to Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry “in order to have an ongoing, intense, high-level political relationship with all Libyan parties.”
However, it’s not yet clear which powers the Special Envoy will be granted and if his role could overlap with the Italian Ambassador in Tripoli.
[Gerardo Fortuna contributed to this article]
(Edited by Benjamin Fox)