Turkey, Italy to make Libya truce 'permanent'

Published 13.01.2020 23:29
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shakes hand with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Ankara, Jan.13, 2020. IHA Photo
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shakes hand with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Ankara, Jan.13, 2020. (IHA Photo)

Turkey and Italy have ramped up efforts to make the cease-fire in Libya permanent, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

"As you know, the cease-fire came to force yesterday (Sunday, Jan.12) night. Negotiations with all the interested parties continue. We are escalating our efforts to make the truce permanent," Erdoğan said, adding that he received information confirming that the meeting in Russia has been going "positively" so far.

On Sunday, the warring sides in the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to a call by Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The cease-fire took effect at midnight local time (10 p.m. GMT), and the decision was celebrated with fireworks in Tripoli.

Conte, for his part, said the cease-fire in Libya would pave the way for an important opportunity, and he hopes the country will enter a peaceful process.

"As Italy, our aim is to have a none-divided, independent and sovereign Libya," said Conte.

The Turkish Communications Directorate said earlier that Erdoğan received Conte at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. The closed-door meeting lasted for over an hour.

Erdoğan also confirmed that he will attend the Libya summit in Berlin alongside his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Conte on Jan.19. He added that Turkey will continue to support the political process that has been ongoing on the issue in Berlin. While calling for the U.N. to monitor the cease-fire process, the president added that he hopes for this process to put an end to the conflict in Libya.

"The preparation for such a conference is ongoing. It should, in any case, take place in January here in Berlin," said Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson, on the summit. The spokesman said he could not provide a firm date yet but confirmed that Sunday, Jan. 19 was a possible option.

Berlin's confirmation came after a series of talks by parties likely to attend any such summit. On Saturday, Merkel visited Putin in Moscow where both parties – mediators in the crisis – called for international efforts to end the strife in Libya. Merkel said that the United Nations would lead talks if a meeting were to take place in Berlin. She said Libya's warring parties would need to play a major role if a solution was to be found. She added the aim was to give Libya the chance of becoming a sovereign and peaceful country. Merkel also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the issue on Monday, according to the Egyptian government.

Also touching on the situation in Idlib, northwestern Syria, where a cease-fire succeeded a fall 2018 de-escalation declaration that had often been violated, Erdoğan stressed they expect Italy's support to maintain the status of the region.

The two leaders also agreed to attend a UEFA opening match between the national teams of Turkey and Italy that will take place on June 12, 2020.

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