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Libya: irresponsible escalation despite Covid‑19 Libya

Foreign Minister Maas prior to a Video conference with EU counterparts

Foreign Minister Maas prior to a Video conference with EU counterparts, © Janine Schmitz/photothek.net

14.05.2020 - Article

Hostilities are continuing in Libya while the coronavirus spreads in the country. The Federal Government is committed to a return to a humanitarian ceasefire and intends to be involved in the EU operation IRINI to monitor the arms Embargo.

Facilitating a humanitarian ceasefire

Despite the spread of the coronavirus in Libya, fighting between the parties to the conflict is intensifying again. The ceasefire that was announced was only short-lived. Time and again, medical facilities and hospitals that are urgently needed to treat COVID‑19 patients are hit by shells. Together with the UN, the Federal Government is working in its contacts with partner and neighbouring countries as well as the parties to the conflict to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire to prevent the further spread of the virus. Today (14 May), Foreign Minister Maas consulted with his Italian and French counterparts and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on how to most effectively exert influence on the parties to the conflict and their supporters. After the talks Maas commented:

We are observing the escalation of the fighting in Libya with concern. Instead of finally complying with the ceasefire, the parties to the conflict are still under the misguided impression that the conflict can be won by military means. The international supporters of both sides are not helping the situation by persistently violating the UN arms embargo.

Continuing to pursue UN dialogue formats

Following the Berlin Conference on Libya, various talks between the parties to the conflict, chaired by the UN, were held in Geneva and Cairo on the issues of a ceasefire, political dialogue and economic and financial reforms. These talks are currently on hold owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Important progress has already been made on one issue, however. Within the framework of the 5+5 Committee, representatives of the parties to the conflict negotiated a draft for a long-term ceasefire. The Federal Government is calling upon both sides to accept this draft without further preconditions.

Germany is also continuing to work to implement the agreements reached at the Berlin Conference on Libya. Following a kick‑off meeting of the International Follow‑Up Committee in Munich in February, talks at the political and expert level are now focusing on the next steps. To this end the Follow‑Up Committee is convening at expert level at regular intervals. The most recent meeting was held in mid-May.

Monitoring and compliance with the arms embargo

The renewed escalation in recent days and weeks is also due to violations of the arms embargo owing to the supply of weapons, material and fighters to both parties to the conflict. In order to increase the pressure on the parties to the conflict and their supporters, the EU has launched the new EU operation IRINI. The EU is thus making an important contribution to implementing the decisions taken in Berlin and to stabilising its direct neighbour, Libya.

IRINI is intended to investigate violations of the arms embargo and, if necessary, can carry out monitoring measures at sea and redirect suspicious vessels to other ports for further checks. The operation also aims to prevent illegal oil exports from Libya and to combat human-trafficking networks. The Federal Government will make an active contribution to the mission. Last week, the Bundestag agreed on what Germany’s contribution would be.

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