Erdogan Urges More Pressure on Libya’s Haftar

  • "This man is not trustworthy," said Erdogan, in reference to Haftar.
  • Erdogan added that Turkey would not abandon Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli government.
  • The future of the migration agreement between Turkey and the European Union was another topic discussed in the bilateral meeting.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged higher international pressure on the military forces in eastern Libya to accept a provisional truce, and said that Turkey remains committed to supporting the Libyan government recognized by the UN. Erdogan made the comments after a meeting in Istanbul with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last Sunday hosted a peace conference on Libya in Berlin. The conference resulted in a provisional ceasefire.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish politician serving as the 12th and current President of Turkey since 2014. He previously served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998.

During a joint press conference with Merkel, the Turkish leader strongly criticized Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose forces, deployed in eastern Libya in April, launched an offensive towards the capital Tripoli, the seat of the Government of National Accord, legitimized by the U N. “This man is not trustworthy,” said Erdogan, in reference to Haftar.

He stressed the countries that participated in the Berlin summit “should not entertain this man,” referring to the attack and threats from Haftar forces, which bombed the Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli earlier this week. Erdogan added that Turkey would not abandon Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli government. “We are determined to give him all the support we can afford,” he added.

Haftar’s forces, which control vast areas of eastern and southern Libya, get support from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. Turkey, in turn, provides aid to the government of Tripoli, which is also supported to a lesser degree by Qatar and Italy. Ankara sent troops in support of Al-Sarraj, but the Turkish leader reiterated that they only include “instructors and experts,” and not a combat force.

Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar is a Libyan-American military officer and the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which, under Haftar’s leadership, replaced nine elected municipal councils by military administrators, and as of May 2019, was engaged in the Second Libyan Civil War.

Erdogan and Merkel publicly disagreed over the outcome of the Berlin peace summit. The German chancellor said that Haftar agreed in principle to the truce, while the Turkish President insisted that the Libyan marshal “did not put his signature” on any documents. The future of the migration agreement between Turkey and the European Union (EU), which was established in March 2016, and which significantly reduces the flow of migrants towards Europe, was another topic discussed in the bilateral meeting.

The number of migrants coming from Turkey and entering Europe through Greece increased significantly in 2019. In 2016, and under pressure from Germany, the EU agreed to grant Turkey around €6 billion to help the 3.6 million Syrian refugees installed in the Eurasian country, and to promote other initiatives to prevent the departure of migrants towards Greece.

Merkel, during the joint presser, admitted that the EU could provide additional aid in support of Turkey. “I can imagine the EU providing support beyond the two times €3 billion,” she said. Erdogan has often accused the EU of failing to fulfil its part of the agreement, and in the past has threatened to “open the door” to migrants looking to reach Europe. The Turkish leader also said that his country could not “continue to bear the burden” of hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and he wants European support to install them in the so-called “security zone” in northern Syria. European countries remain reluctant to this prospect.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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