Libya confident of Turkey’s military help when needed: Envoy
Hande Fırat – ANKARA
“We believe that His Highness [President Erdoğan] will give a helping hand without delay, if [it] was requested from him. We should also mention the historical relation that united the Libyan and Turkish people,” Ambassador Abdurrazaq Mukhtar Abdulgader told the daily Hürriyet in an interview.
“[Sending troops] was not peculiar over the course of history,” the ambassador said, giving the example of the siege of Tripoli in 1551 by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He said that back then, the Ottomans, too, paid attention to the call of the Tripoli people.
Erdoğan had previously said Turkey could send troops to Libya if the Tripol-based U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Serraj requested it, following a security and military deal between the two countries. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Dec. 14 said that no such request has been made “yet.”
When asked about the conditions in which Libya would request troops from Ankara, the ambassador said that the legitimate government is the decision-maker in the process.
Regarding the defense and security memorandum of understanding, (MoU), Abdulgader said the deal is beneficial for both countries.
“The MoU is a gain for both countries, and it will provide benefits and advantages for joint interests,” he said.
“What can be the obstacle if a Turkish [military] base is wanted in Libya. Turkey is a friendly country, and we have a history with it,” he added.
The MoU on defense and security was hammered on Nov. 27 between the senior government officials from two countries along with another deal on the delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean.
The agreement pledges a legal basis for substantial cooperation in the field of defense and security including establishing defense offices in each other’s countries, training, allocating of air, ground and naval vehicles and holding joint exercises and intelligence.
The move has come as the Tobruk-based General Khalifa Hafter forces have intensified attacks against the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli under the leadership of al-Sarraj.
After the agreement, many countries especially the European Union lashed out at Turkey and Libya, saying the deal does not abide by international law. Twenty-seven members of the EU gathered on Dec. 13 in Brussels and agreed on a statement claiming Turkish-Libyan maritime pact “violates the sovereign rights of third countries.”
Regarding the criticisms, the ambassador said that the objections from third parties “do not have a meaning.”
“International community should respect the sovereignty of states and privacy of relations. The legitimacy of agreements will be given by the signatory parties. The objections made, outside the relevant sovereign parties, do not have a meaning,” he said.
Regarding a possible joint drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, Abdulgader said that the authorized body in charge of determining oil and drilling policies is Libya’s National Petroleum Company.
“This MoU is the extended -or advanced- version of the security agreement signed between Turkey and Libya in 2012. The maritime jurisdiction in the new agreement is determined by relevant authorities,” he said.
“In Libya, we have the National Petroleum Company which is assigned [to be in charge] of all issues regarding oil and drilling, which also determined the policies and controls of these,” he added.
When asked about his opinion on the support Hafter receives from the international area, including the U.S. and Russia, the ambassador said such a “double standard” works up the crisis in Libya.
“The support should always be in favor of strengthening legitimacy and respecting agreements. But, if we see it otherwise, this would be a diversion. While the international community should defend and support the legitimacy and stability of our country, the conflict and double standard of some countries supporting illegal formations becomes the fuel of our crisis,” he said.
The ambassador also praised Turkey’s regional support, saying such an endorsement will strengthen GNA’s legitimacy.
“This will show Turkey’s respect to international legitimacy and the United Nations,” he said. He also added that Turkey will not “keep back from performing its moral duty” towards such countries.
He also conveyed Turkey’s ever-lasting efforts to halt the crisis in Libya, saying the moves of Ankara has earned a special place in the hearts of Libyan people.