Diplomacy of hypocrisy in Berlin conference

Published 23.01.2020 16:54
Updated 24.01.2020 00:24

A total of 12 countries and four international institutions attended the summit in the German capital in an effort to end the conflict in Libya. The results of the Berlin conference were plain and simple: Turkey's rising role in the Libya issue has been confirmed, putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar has tried to gain legitimate ground with his 10-month strategy of conflict, Greece wasn't even taken seriously, and the oil issue is the only constant that European states agree on.

If Turkey had not sent troops to Libya, it would not have been in a position to initiate and lead the diplomatic table together with Germany and Russia. If the Government of National Accord (GNA) is now able to go even to China to seek and boost its allies, this is both because Turkey and the GNA, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, have gained time.

Also, for the first time, Haftar has had trouble establishing balance between the U.S., Russia, France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some examples of this were the news that Russian mercenaries linked to Wagner began withdrawing, after a joint call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin; Haftar's visit to Russia and his resistance to the call for a cease-fire under pressure from the UAE.

Greece, on the other hand, was not even invited to this conference, which concerns the Mediterranean countries. There are also those, who are not few in number, agreeing with Varoufakis who served as minister of finance in Alexis Tsipras' government, and the secretary general of MeRA25, in his criticism of the government at the Greek parliament, saying that they "played on the wrong side by supporting a warlord (Haftar) in Libya."

Before leaving for Berlin, Erdoğan called on Greece to adopt good sense, saying: "Greece is seriously troubled that it has not been invited to Germany. Our agreement with Libya drove Greece mad... He invited Haftar to Greece. They held these negotiations with a revanchist mentality, but it is of no value. (Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis is playing the game wrong. His steps are not right. He started this process wrong."

The resulting declaration in Berlin hardly gave any hope of a cease-fire. The fact that none of the leaders, except the host German Chancellor Angela Merkel, made a statement after the summit was a sign that there was no consensus.

The only consensus was achieved on the oil issue, which was particularly brought to the summit's agenda by France and Germany - two nations that get a significant portion of their oil supply from Libya. The two countries were on alert, as Haftar forces began attacking the oil fields to increase pressure on the al-Sarraj government. For now, it is safe to say that the only agreement to come out of the summit was to urge Haftar to stop attacking oil fields.

With Haftar continuing his attacks, it has become clear that the Berlin conference will not lead to a cease-fire important for the future of Libya for now. Haftar, however, is not a major actor without the support of the countries that put it forward. The fact that countries such as France, the UAE and Egypt, which attended the conference, continue to support Haftar, who has been attacking the only government recognized by the United Nations for 10 months and killing civilians, remains an obstacle to the cease-fire.

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