Turkey hopes to resolve Libya row with Russia through dialogue
Turkey’s defense minister expressed his hopes to resolve an ongoing disagreement with Russia on Libya through dialogue, days before the Turkish Parliament is to vote for the deployment of Turkish troops to the war-torn country.
“We have a good dialogue with Russia, particularly between our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Vladimir Putin. We also have military-to-military dialogue. Our wish and expectation are to resolve the [Libya] problem through dialogue,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the private broadcaster NTV in an interview on Dec. 31.
Akar responded to a question on whether Turkey and Russia would find each other as rivals in the Libyan theater as they support the opposite parties. Turkey supports the U.N.-backed Government National Accord in Tripoli, while Russia backs General Khalifa Haftar who controls a good portion of Libya. Turkey says around 2,000 Russian mercenaries are fighting along with the Haftar troops.
Erdoğan and Putin will meet on Jan. 8 in Turkey for the inauguration of the TurkStream pipeline that carries natural gas from Russia to Turkey and to Europe.
Parliament will vote on Jan. 2 for the deployment of the Turkish troops to Libya in a clear support to the government in Tripoli.
“It’s out of question for us to stay indifferent while civilians in Libya are under attack by the Haftar forces,” Akar said, citing Turkey’s historical ties with the Libyan people.
The preparations of the Turkish Armed Forces for the deployment of troops to Libya are underway but details will be determined after talks with the Libyan officials, the minister said.
“We need to consider the security measures needed in Libya as a whole. We will make our assessments with the participation of our land, naval and air forces.”
Akar recalled that Turkey and the GNA signed a memorandum of understanding on defense and security cooperation that envisages the training of the Libyan security forces but stressed that the military cooperation between the two will enter a new phase with the deployment of Turkish troops.