International community welcomes cease-fire call in Libya

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 13.01.2020 23:01

The international community welcomed a cease-fire call between the warring sides in Libya, which was announced following Turkey and Russia's joint call to end clashes and reach a political solution.

The European Union's foreign policy chief and the head of bloc's parliament Monday welcomed the cease-fire in Libya.

"The announcement of a cease-fire in Libya provides an important opportunity to resume dialogue for a political solution to the crisis. It is now to the parties to fully implement it," said Josep Borell, high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, on Twitter.

"The EU is ready to help Berlin process and efforts of the U.N. All Libyans deserve peace and prosperity," he added.

Separately, David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, welcomed the decision in a written statement.

"The halt to the armed conflict is the first fundamental step in the right direction. This is a result for which the European Union has worked hard for," he said in the statement.

"It is now necessary to consolidate this result and relaunch, after months of stalemate, the dialogue between the parties to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis," he said.

"The European Union, under the auspices of the United Nations and within the framework of the Berlin Process, can and must play a leading role in facilitating this," he added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also welcomed the cease-fire on Monday but cautioned that the United Nations must lead the process of rebuilding the country.

"A cease-fire, yes, it is a first step in the right direction, but what you need is a process for consolidation, for reconstruction and a government of unity. There is a long way to go. This has to be a U.N.-led process," she told reporters after a meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a credible and lasting cease-fire in Libya, his office said Monday, as the main players in the conflict prepare to sign a truce.

"The president emphasized the necessity that the cease-fire that is to be announced is credible, lasting and verifiable," Macron's office said, following telephone talks between the French president and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

Egypt and Algeria on Sunday announced their support for the cease-fire.

"Egypt welcomes the unconditional cease-fire declared in Libya and expresses its support to all who will prevent the bloodshed of our brotherly people of Libya," Egypt's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that Egypt supports a comprehensive political solution to protect the unity and territorial integrity of its neighbor countries, including Libya.

Meanwhile, Algeria's Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "Welcoming the cease-fire in Libya, Algeria urges all sides to adhere to the cease-fire and to resume a dialogue process as soon as possible."

The Arab Union was another party that expressed its satisfaction with the implementation of a cease-fire in Libya.

The head of Libya's U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, and his rival, strongman Khalifa Haftar, are due to officially confirm a cease-fire later on Monday in Moscow.

The GNA in Tripoli had been under attack since last April from forces loyal to eastern-based Haftar, which on Jan. 6 captured the strategic coastal city of Sirte.

More than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced since Haftar launched his assault, according to the U.N.

The North African country has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 revolt – backed by France and other European countries – toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

On Jan. 12, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to the call of Russian and Turkish presidents.

The cease-fire took effect at midnight local time and the decision was celebrated with fireworks in Tripoli.

The cease-fire followed a joint call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – who backs Sarraj and has sent troops to help the GNA – and Putin, who analysts have long seen as supporting Haftar.

Pro-Haftar forces are supported by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – all regional rivals of Turkey.

Sarraj has also accused Paris of supporting Haftar and tacitly backing his assault on Tripoli, claims denied by French officials.

During his call with Putin, Macron expressed hope that a conference to be held in Berlin would relaunch a peace process for Libya under the aegis of the United Nations.

Since last September, several high-level meetings were held in Berlin to put an end to the Libyan conflict.

The meetings were held with the participation of France, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. The negotiations are known as the Berlin peace process.

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