ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – On Sunday in Geneva at a joint military commission representing Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern Libyan forces, Mohammed Ammari Zayed a member of the Presidential Council thanked Turkish Ambassador to Libya, Serhat Aksen for Turkey’s support for Libya and its willingness to help protect civilians, Tripoli and government institutions.
Turkey’s ambassador to Libya emphasized that his country’s purpose in cooperating with the GNA is as he explained: “In order to maintain the ceasefire in line with its requests and achieve peace and stability in the country,”
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel who co-hosted the Berlin Summit with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in January, remains committed to resolving the Libya conflict. On Sunday, German Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Owcza said that Germany supports the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Libya and has granted an additional 500,000 Euros (547,000 USD) to the UNHAS. Owcza said: “UNHAS provides critical support to over 30 organizations, helping them to reach Libyans, refugees and migrants all over the country.”
During the Berlin Summit, It was Merkel who called for an arms embargo in Libya which Guterres had reiterated, must be complied with, in order for talks to move ahead. The Berlin Summit implemented the Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) to comprise five senior officers appointed from the GNA, the UN-backed government under Prime Minister Faiez al-Sarraj and five senior officers to be appointed from the Libyan National Army (LNA) controlled by renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar.
Germany’s ambassador to Libya, Owcza emphasized how crucial confidence-building is in Libya and said: “Respect to all participants of this first round of intra-Libyan ceasefire talks is an encouraging signal that a date for continuation has been set.” He added: “Any confidence-building measures are to the benefit of all Libyans. Likewise, progress on the political and economic tracks (is) necessary.”
On Saturday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reported the first round of talks for the JMC that began on February 3 with the participation of UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salame in Geneva at the Palais des Nations. There was a consensus reached in a number of areas but the parties are not in full agreement, according to the organization. Also, on Saturday, the UNSMIL released a statement that both parties should continue talks on February 18 if they are in agreement to do so.
The UNSMIL released a formal statement on the talks that read as follows: “UNSMIL expresses its appreciation to both sides for coming to Geneva, for upholding in earnest the responsibilities they had been entrsted with as well as for the professional and positive spirit that characterized their discussions.”
Their statement added: “UNSMIL takes note of the existing consensus around the importance of maintaining the truce that had been announced on 12 January this year, of the necessity to respect it and refrain from violating it. UNSMIL also notes the widespread consensus between both sides with regard to the urgency for Libyans to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country: protect its borders; protect national decision-making process and resources from any foreign interference; stop the flow of non-Libyan fighters and send them out of the country; and to continue the fight aginst the UN-identified terrorist groups (al-Qaeda, ISIS, Ansar al-Sharia).”
UNSMIL said both sides are supportive of ongoing prisoner exchanges, return of remains of those killed and both parties are grateful for UNSMIL support but as yet, UNSMIL said: “a full understanding could not be reached on optimal ways to restore normalcy to these areas.”