By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL – In the most recent meeting between the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Turkish President Erdogan in Istanbul – the Turkish leader reaffirmed his support for the GNA. The two leaders met for an hour on Sunday in Istanbul in a closed-door meeting at Vahdettin Mansion and later with delegations from the two sides.
Erdogan reiterated during the meeting that Turkey will continue in full unity with Libya’s GNA while lauding news of the UN’s registration of the maritime agreement between Turkey and Libya. The Turkish leader emphasized that his government will continue to support stability in Libya as well as fully support the Libyan people. It was on Thursday, that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres registered a deal between Turkey and Libya on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean. Also, in attendance at the Istanbul meeting were Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Communications Dirctor Fahrettin Altun and presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin.
Meanwhile, concerted diplomatic efforts to bring all sides in Libya to the negotiating table began weeks ago, in an attempt to resolve the longstanding conflict in the North African nation. After the GNA’s military success in pushing back on warlord Khalifa Haftar and his militias. In new developments, the EU recently expressed its confidence in Tobruk Parliament’s Speaker of the House of Representatives in eastern Libya, Aquila Saleh since his recent move for what the EU termed as “constructive engagement” to support a negotiated political solution. The EU agreed to drop previous sanctions against Saleh and in their statement, said: “The de-listing of speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis.” Political analysts and experts view the EU’s move as an opportunity to reassert its role in Libya in light of powerbrokers Russia and Turkey who continue to play significant roles in the quest for a political solution.
In another new development, the UN mission said that after a meeting in Egypt, new military talks under the auspices of the UN will resume during the next few weeks, in the hopes of leading to a permanent ceasefire. The UN mission said that the talks in Egypt addressed confidence-building measures, security arrangements and the role of the Petroleum Facilities Guard that is slated to protect energy infrastructure but tends to be comprised of local groups with their own agendas. The mission said that recommendations, including prisoner swaps and releases as well as expediting the reopening of air-land transport links will be brought before military delegations.
Another positive development is U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s visit to the region where he met with Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan leaders last week to discuss regional issues in light of increasing concern about lawlessness in Libya. Libya’s prime minister al-Sarraj, in an annual address via video to the United Nations General Assembly, welcomed commitments by political leaders in eastern Libya to end violence and resume oil production. Though, al-Sarraj did comment: “However, we have not yet seen cooperation from armed groups and the aggressive militias.” He added: ‘In fact, we have only seen hostile remarks from their spokesmen and violations by their forces.” The Libyan prime minister also said, “we would hold them responsible for any military confrontations and any resulting casualties and destruction.” The prime minister gave his prerecorded remarks to the world’s first ever virtual UN General Assembly from Tripoli, where he heads up the GNA.