In discussions on Germany’s engagement in Libya, which is profoundly fragmented by internal power struggles, people frequently say “Libya is far away – what does it have to do with us?” It is true that Germany is funding a large number of reconstruction and stabilisation projects in Libya. That is not only of benefit to the people of the country.
A challenge for the entire region
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is travelling to Libya on Thursday (8 June) because the country’s instability also poses a threat to its neighbouring countries. “In Libya, we are witnessing the tremendous political, humanitarian and security policy consequences of the conflicts in the Middle East in sharp relief,” Gabriel said on his arrival in Tripoli. “Our objective is – together with the Libyan people – to brace ourselves against the tide of instability that has emerged in the absence of sound structures.” Following the overthrow of dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, the country has split into zones controlled by rival militia groups. The lack of state structures also opened the gateway to Islamist terror militia such as “Islamic State”, which has been able to increase its influence in Libya.
A willingness to compromise is needed
In order to bring about stability, Libya’s estranged forces must conduct serious talks on implementing the Political Agreement adopted in 2015. “Only then will it be possible to calm the fighting and, in the medium term, achieve order and statehood.” For this reason, Sigmar Gabriel also travelled to Tripoli with a message for Prime Minister Sarraj: “Tangible progress is urgently needed – both in terms of building up professional national security forces and in the economic sphere.”
Looking away is not an option
At least a million migrants and refugees are stuck in Libya, some of whom are being detained under catastrophic conditions by human traffickers. “An initial, pressing task is therefore to improve the shameful living conditions in the detention centres.” To this end, Foreign Minister Gabriel announced that Germany would provide further funding in addition to the planned contribution to the International Organization for Migration’s 100-million-euro regional programme. “We will provide UNHCR with an additional 3.5 million euros by 2018.”
The example of Libya shows clearly how closely foreign policy and development policy are often interlinked. “Forced migration, displacement and migration are a consequence that has a direct impact on us,” Gabriel said.Libya is far away. We all stand to benefit from stabilisation in the country.