Turkey wants Libya’s ‘elected Parliament’ to operate

Turkey wants Libya’s ‘elected Parliament’ to operate

Turkey wants Libya’s ‘elected Parliament’ to operate

The leader of Libya's self-proclaimed Islamist-leaning government, Omar al-Hassi, arrives to address journalists on Dec. 23. AFP Photo

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has reiterated Turkey’s support for Libya’s “elected Parliament,” while arguing that Turkey supports the territorial integrity of the country, which has been riven with divisions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Yılmaz’s comments came in response to a question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Haydar Akar during a General Assembly session late on Jan. 8.

Akar recalled that on Jan. 7, the Foreign Ministry released a statement saying a threat to shoot down Turkish civilian and military aircraft had been posted on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to the Libyan Air Force. Also on Jan. 7, Turkish Airlines became the last foreign operator to suspend all flights to Libya.

“What is the reason for the stance assumed against Turks by Libya, to which you have made great contributions in its arriving at its current situation? Might the reason be your bid for the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership or is there another reason?” Akar had asked, recalling that Turkey urged all of its remaining citizens to leave Libya amid worsening security, following the threat allegedly from the Libyan Air Force.

In response, Yılmaz quoted the Jan. 7 statement by the Foreign Ministry “strongly condemning” the Libyan Air Force statement asserting that “civilian or military Turkish aircraft that might enter Libyan airspace will be shot down.”

“This irresponsible statement in contravention of international law is totally unacceptable. We strongly condemn this hostile statement targeting Turkey,” Yılmaz said.

“Furthermore, it is obvious that certain figures led to civilian casualties by launching air strikes in Libya, demolishing the country’s infrastructure and violating international law and human rights, are the ones who made this statement,” he added.

“As Turkey, we favor Libya’s territorial integrity as much as we favor and defend its Parliament, which is composed of elected lawmakers. But some [circles] are virtually trying to have Libya used as a financial source for other neighboring countries through its turmoil. We say this is not right and if there is richness in Libya, it should belong to the Libyan people,” Yılmaz said.