Turkey, Libya, Malta 'agree on joint cooperation'

Turkey, Libya, Malta 'agree on joint cooperation'

ANKARA- Anadolu Agency
Turkey, Libya, Malta agree on joint cooperation

Turkey, Malta and Libya on Aug. 6 agreed to promote joint cooperation, facilitate the return of Maltese and Turkish companies to Libya and resume flights between the three countries, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, his Maltese counterpart Evarist Bartolo and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj held a meeting in Libya's capital Tripoli to discuss the latest situation in the North African country and joint cooperation between the three nations.

During the meeting, the sides underlined the need to strengthen Libya's southern borders and combat human trafficking and smuggling, noting that illegal migration posed a threat not only to the EU, but to Libya as well.

Both Turkey and Malta expressed their readiness to support Libya's internationally recognized government against illegal migration.

They emphasized the importance of the EU's participation in "tackling the root causes of illegal migration by helping the development of source countries."

The three countries also agreed to set up a joint working team to coordinate efforts and cooperation for the transformation of agreements into concrete and practical projects.

During the meeting, Çavuşoğlu and Bartolo stressed their support for Tripoli, saying: "There is no military solution to the Libyan crisis, and stability and security of Libya are of a great significance."


Germany taking part in 'biased' Operation Irini

Çavuşoğlu also criticized Germany for taking part in a "biased" EU initiative to enforce a U.N. arms embargo on Libya's
warring sides.

After meetings with al-Sarraj and Bartolo, Çavuşoğlu told reporters that by sending frigates to the initiative, dubbed Operation Irini, Germany endangered its impartiality in the conflict, as well as the legitimacy of the Berlin Conference to end the fighting in the North African country.

Çavuşoğlu argued that Operation Irini supported warlord Khalifa Haftar and his backers, for whom the EU has been acting as an instrument.

On March 31, EU foreign ministers approved the launch of Operation IRINI.

The mission aimed to operate in the air and sea, as well as with Earth-orbiting satellites, to ensure that all countries respect the ban on providing arms to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict.

EU forces will also watch for illegal oil exports, prevent human trafficking and contribute to the training of the local coast guard and navy as a complementary task.

Alleging that some European countries did not oppose the initiative in a bid to benefit from EU funds, he praised Malta for its bravery in leaving the operation.

He noted that during the talks in Libya, Turkey reiterated its support and cooperation with the North African country and that the sides discussed the prospects for a political process and truce.

Bartolo's presence was another significant point of the visit, he said. "European countries, especially those neighboring the Mediterranean, should further strengthen their cooperation with Libya because developments here
always reverberate in Europe, particularly those countries to the Mediterranean's north."

Irregular migration

Çavuşoğlu underlined that Libya was facing problems in the fight against irregular immigration, with nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants in the war-torn country.

"Turkey understands Libya best on this issue. Therefore, it's necessary to support Libya and establish cooperation between European countries and Libya."

Urging the EU to provide strong support for Libya as the country grapples with irregular migration, he noted that the Turkish Coast Guard had provided two boats to Libya and that it would repair existing vessels.

Çavuşoğlu highlighted that basic services in Libya, such as electricity, water, sanitation and public transport, urgently needed to be met, adding: "Although there is no officially declared cease-fire, there is still calm in the field. Now, people are waiting to be served. "

He stressed that the Libyan government wanted a permanent cease-fire in the regions of Sirte and Jufra, alleging that Haftar does not believe in a political resolution to the conflict and could attack the Misrata - its last recently lost stronghold in western Libya - or the capital Tripoli at any time.

Beirut explosion

On a massive explosion in the capital of Lebanon on Tuesday, Çavuşoğlu said eight Turkish nationals had been injured and that Turkey sent relief teams to help the country recover.

Stressing the importance of supplying emergency aid to Beirut and the reconstruction of the city, he said: "We've always stood by Lebanon. Now and in the future, we will stand by Lebanon and the brotherly Lebanese people."

Beirut and its surrounding suburbs were rocked Tuesday by a massive explosion that left at least 135 people dead and nearly 5,000 injured.

Following the blast, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.

Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said the investigation into the blast would be transparent and last for five days and that those responsible would be held accountable.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese government approved a decision of the Supreme Defense Council for a state of emergency in Beirut.

The blast struck Lebanon while the country was experiencing its worst economic crisis along with a dramatic drop in the Lebanese pound against the U.S. dollar.