NATO position on Libya consistent, says alliance chief
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have discussed on the phone the recent developments in Libya and Syria as the latter reiterated the alliance continued to support to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which is under attack by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
A written statement issued by the Communication Directorate late May 14 also said that the two leaders talked about the ongoing fight against the coronavirus and solidarity between the allied nations.
In a separate press release, Stoltenberg praised Turkey for helping NATO allies and partners with medical equipment over the past months to help combat the virus. “In these challenging times, it remains more important than ever to demonstrate allied solidarity,” Stoltenberg told Erdoğan, according to the statement.
Turkey sent medical equipment to a number of NATO countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and other countries since the pandemic hit the world.
On Libya, Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s readiness to help the war-torn North African country by building its defense and security capacities. The Erdoğan-Stoltenberg conversation came on the same day the latter explicitly lent support to the GNA.
In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, Stoltenberg acknowledged the fact that there is an ongoing arms embargo on Libya, stressing, “However, this doesn’t mean to put on the same level the forces led by [Khalifa] Haftar and the government of Fayez al-Sarraj, the only one recognized by the U.N.”
“For this reason, NATO is ready to give its support to the government of Tripoli,” he said.
‘NATO’s Libya stance consistent’
In a written statement after his phone conversation with Erdoğan, Stoltenberg suggested that NATO’s position on Libya remains consistent in line with the conclusions of the 2018 Brussels Summit of the alliance.
“NATO is prepared to help Libya in the area of defense and security institution building, in response to the request by the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord to assist the GNA to strengthen its security institutions,” he said.
“Any NATO assistance to Libya would take account of political and security conditions, and would be provided in full complementarity and in close coordination with other international efforts, including those of the UN and the EU. The Secretary General also recalled that all parties should respect the U.N. arms embargo, as reaffirmed at the Berlin International Conference on Libya in January this year, and that NATO fully supports U.N. efforts to find a political solution,” added the secretary-general.
The Libyan government has been under attack by Haftar’s armed forces since April 2019. Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya have launched several attacks to capture the capital Tripoli, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
The Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital. Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a political deal led by the U.N.
Top Turkish, Libyan diplomats discuss pandemic
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the coronavirus pandemic in a phone call with his Libyan counterpart on May 14, according to diplomatic sources. Çavuşoğlu and Mohamed Taha Siala exchanged ideas on steps to combat the pandemic.
The sources did not provide further details on the content of the phone talk.
Second batch of Turkish virus aid arrives in Libya
In the meantime, the second batch of Turkish medical equipment arrived in Libya to help the country fight the novel coronavirus.
According to diplomatic sources, Turkey’s Ambassador to Tripoli Serhat Akşen personally delivered the medical supplies to Tawfik Harisha, the country’s Government Emergency Administration of the Health Ministry director.
Emphasizing that they were grateful for Turkey’s help, Harisha thanked Ankara for its support in every field.