Libya thankful for Turkey's solidarity during hard times, deputy PM says
Demonstrators wave a large Turkish flag in a rally against eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar and in support of the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Martyrs' Square in the GNA-held capital Tripoli, Jan. 10, 2020. (AFP Photo)

Libya's deputy prime minister said Tuesday that Turkey was the only nation that stood with his country during difficult times and he is thankful for it.

Ahmed Maiteeq expressed his thoughts about the process in Libya while taking part in the Mediterranean Dialogue Forum in Rome via video link.

While noting that Libya received support from many places when previously threatened by Daesh, things were different when putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar and his militia attacked Tripoli in April 2019.

"We called on our partners to support the legitimate government of Libya. Turkey responded favorably. Only Turkey was next to us in the international arena that we found supporting the legitimate government. We are grateful to have it standing with us," Maiteeq stated.

He said the decision by Stephanie Williams, acting special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and the head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), to make Dec. 24, 2021, the country's election date is a success story.

Maiteeq noted that his meeting with Haftar in September was more about Libya's financial situation and the necessity of lifting the blockade on oil exports that was suppressing revenues and therefore also the Libyan economy.

Based in the capital Tripoli and currently led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, the Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by Haftar's forces.

The U.N. recognizes the GNA, which also enjoys support from Turkey, as the country's legitimate authority. Tripoli has been battling Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Turkey prevented further crisis

Commenting on Turkey's support for the GNA during the Libyan crisis, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday that the support has prevented a further humanitarian crisis in the conflict-ravaged country.

Speaking at the fourth TRT World Forum 2020’s online session, “New Realities in Foreign Affairs and Interstate Relations after Covid-19," Çavuşoğlu stated that Turkey took initiative and averted a fresh humanitarian disaster in Libya, adding: "Turkey's support of training and consultation to the U.N.-recognized Libyan government has prevented a civil war. This at the same time has opened a way for a political process led by the U.N."