The foreign ministers of 17 countries and representatives of several important international organisations met in Rome on Sunday (13 December) to discuss Libya’s stabilisation. An agreement to establish a government of national unity is to be signed in Skhirat, Morocco, on 16 December.
Serious situation in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood
Speaking to journalists at the weekend, Steinmeier said, “We must work from the premise that all Libya’s state structures have collapsed in the last two and a half years.” The situation is grave. There are around 100 militia groups fighting one another in varying coalitions on a day‑to‑day basis, and the United Nations has costed the need for humanitarian aid at approximately 160 million US dollars. Libya is a direct neighbour to the European Union, with only around 300 kilometres separating its coastline from European islands like Lampedusa and Crete. As Steinmeier put it, we in Europe and Germany itself therefore “have a major interest in seeing the destabilisation and chaos there contained”. He said, “Every day we wait adds to the humanitarian crisis in what is actually such a prosperous country. In Libya as elsewhere, this can benefit nobody but the ISIS terrorists.”
Objective: A government of national unity
It was in this context that the foreign ministers of 17 countries and representatives of the EU, UN, Arab League and African Union met in Rome on 13 December to discuss the future of Libya with Libyan delegates. For all the gravity of the situation, it is not hopeless. Important conflict parties agreed on a peace treaty in the city of Skhirat back in July. The objective of the meeting in Rome stemmed from that – to get as many factions as position to back an agreement that will make it possible to establish a government of national unity.
Signature planned for 16 December
The participants in Rome came a step closer to that objective. “We agreed today that a joint agreement is to be signed before Christmas. The plan is for the various Libyan opposition parties to meet to that end on 16 December,” Steinmeier explained after the meeting. He also said that all those present had emphasised their support for the efforts of Martin Kobler, the new UN Special Representative. Similarly, the foreign ministers pledged their ongoing support for efforts to combat the humanitarian crisis and for the government of national unity. The joint communiqué also covers working together to defeat ISIS affiliates in Libya and implement UN Security Council Resolution 2213.
German contribution to stabilisation
Although the objective – peace in Libya – had not yet been achieved, Steinmeier said, the meeting had nonetheless been an important step. As soon as the hoped‑for agreement was concluded, he went on, Germany too would stand ready to help safeguard it. Steinmeier suggested that Germany’s contribution could include developing administrative structures, training loyal security forces or providing humanitarian assistance. Speaking in Rome, Foreign Minister Steinmeier pointed out “what great potential the country has, if only it can get back on its feet,“ adding that “We all have a duty to help make that happen”.