Solution possible in Libya ‘if truce holds’
“If the ceasefire, for which we made a call with Mr. Putin, is complied with, the political process will also be opened,” Erdoğan told journalists on his way back from Germany where he attended the Berlin summit at the weekend as part of efforts to maintain a ceasefire in Libya.
A military committee, formed by five members each from the warring sides in Libya, will convene in the upcoming days he said, stressing the key factor would be General Khalifa Haftar would end “his aggressive attitude.” Nobody objected to this argument at the Berlin summit, he added.
“The fact is that the steps we have taken regarding Libya have brought a balance to the process and a ceasefire ground has been formed. We will continue to support the political process by keeping our position strong both on the field and at the table. Turkey’s presence in Libya has increased the hope for peace,” he said.
Turkey’s presence in Libya raises hopes for peace, Erdoğan stated. “The fact is that the steps we have taken regarding Libya have brought a balance to the process and a ceasefire ground has been established. We will continue to support the political process by keeping our position strong both on the field and at the table. Turkey’s presence in Libya has increased the hope for peace,” the president said.
“We also see what kind of games are played under the guise of fighting terrorism in Libya. Against this, we will continue to stand by the legitimate government,” he emphasized.
Erdoğan also said that Haftar not signing the ceasefire agreement and departing suddenly from the summit is “rather meaningful.”
“We said, [the ceasefire] should be validated with a signature. Despite all this, no signature was given,” he said, adding that the Haftar “verbally” agreed to the agreement’s terms.
“I hope its outcome will be beneficial,” he said.
When asked about Turkey’s next steps if Haftar and his forces fail to abide by the agreement, Erdoğan said Ankara will do “what is necessary” in such a case.
The president also conveyed that other circles have been asking Turkey if it will continue to send troops to Libya after the Berlin summit.
“We tell them, ‘We are not sending troops. We just sent a trainer staff and they gave trainings [in Libya],” he said.
He also added that some 2,500 security forces of Wagner, Russian-backed mercenaries, are present in Libya.
“Why don’t you talk about these? When we say this, they cannot give us an answer,” he said.
Other than Wagner, some 5,000 Sudanese troops are also present in Libya, along with other forces from Chad and Niger, the president conveyed.
“But there is another matter that should be stressed. Regarding air defense systems and air forces, there is the support the Russians and the Abu Dhabi administration give [in Libya],” he said.
Footage from Jun. 18, 2019 showed that the Russian-made Pantsir-S1 air defense systems on German-made MAN SX 45 trucks were arriving in Libya as support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Haftar’s forces.
Erdoğan said that during the summit, Turkey has conveyed its expectations on “sensitivity” from the said countries.
He added that the relevant parties, especially Merkel, accepted the Turkish side’s concerns.
Erdoğan pointed at the problem of ports for oil exports of Libya that were blocked by Haftar and said this was the main problem recently.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis invited Haftar to Athens just to “provoke” Turkey, said the president. Erdoğan said one of the leaders at the Berlin summit told him that Mitsotakis wants to restore ties with Turkey.
Turkey and Libya plan to include third, even fourth countries for projects on the natural resources of the region after the two signed maritime delimitation deal for the eastern Mediterranean.
Erdoğan noted Somali authorities proposed Turkey to make “similar work to the Libya” for their oil resources on the Somali coast.
“He wants to fix ties with me and on the other hand invites Haftar to Greece. ‘Wouldn’t that be nonsense?’ I said. ‘You tell him first, this is wrong. Once, he corrects this, then it is easy for us to meet,’ I said,” Erdoğan noted.
Elaborating on Syrian regime attacks in Idlib, the president recalled the fact that residents of the province flee to the Turkish border and they were nearly 30 km away from the border. Turkey plans to make huts of 20-25 square meters for the displaced people there.
He added that Iran had a new intelligence chief and Fidan is expected to meet with him in the upcoming days.
“Thus, Mr. Hakan has been already successfully continuing these relations with countries around us,” he added.
Regarding Ankara’s relations with Moscow, the president said the relations are “strategic” and have “different” aspects.
“Now these strategic ties take the relations between us to a much stronger level. It is not possible for me to give any possibility that we will experience any problems here,” he said.