Mercenaries should be removed from Libya, says Erdoğan
Mercenaries who have turned Libya into bloodbath should be removed from the North African country, and the international community should cease supporting illegitimate parties, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, suggesting Turkey’s assistance to the Government of National Accord (GNA) will help stabilize the entire country.
“Providing an immediate stability to Libya is not only to the interest of Libya but the entire region. The political and economic strengthening of Libya will relieve both North Africa and Europe. The international community should make its choice by supporting the legitimate government and stop the putschists who commit war crimes,” Erdoğan said in an interview with periodical Kriter over the weekend.
The mercenaries who turned Libya into a bloodbath should be removed and putschists should be held accountable for the crimes they committed as proven by the recently revealed mass graves in Tarhuna and other cities, Erdoğan stated.
Without giving any names, Erdoğan accused General Khalifa Haftar of committing war crimes in Libya, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) who has long been backed by a group of countries including Russia, France, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
There are thousands of mercenaries fighting for Haftar, according to the reports, singling out Russia’s Wagner Group, a private security company who has at least 1,200 fighters on the field. There are also Syrian and Sudanese fighters who have been deployed in Libya in the recent period.
The Turkey-backed GNA forces expelled Haftar’s forces out of Tripoli and advanced towards Sirte, an important city linking Tripoli with Benghazi. Erdoğan said Haftar and his supporters’ plans to capture Tripoli has been foiled thanks to Turkey’s firm stance, vowing Ankara will continue to support the GNA.
“These gains in the field will herald peace and comfort in every part of Libya,” he said.
No tension sought in Med Sea
On a question about the ongoing tension in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and a coalition of countries, including Greece, Greek Cyprus, France and Egypt, Erdoğan said these countries’ aim is to passivize Turkey in the region and to seize its rights and interests over hydrocarbon reserves.
“We told them, over and over, that this is wrong and unlawful. We have underlined that Turkey is committed to protect its rights. Their objective was to confine Turkey, which has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, to a tiny shoreline enough only to catch fish,” he said.
Turkey foiled this attempt by launching its own drilling in the region, Erdoğan said, adding, “I say openly and clearly: We do not want tension in the Mediterranean, the cradle of different civilizations through history. To the contrary, we believe that hydrocarbon resources in the region can offer opportunities to the entire region.”
“Our doors are open to any proposal based on cooperation and a fair revenue share. We are ready to work with everyone on the basis of these principles.”