Foreign Ministers Maas, Di Maio and Le Drian in Libya: Working together for lasting peace
Foreign Ministe Maas in Libya, © Felix Zahn/photothek.net
By visiting Tripoli, the three Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and Italy want to show support for the United Nations and help the newly approved Libyan Government advance the cause of peace and unity in the country.
There are signs of hope in Libya, because the country has made impressive progress: in October, the parties to the conflict agreed on both a ceasefire and confidence-building measures, and the oil blockade ended. At the end of 2020, the parties reached agreement on a roadmap for a political transition with free elections, and an interim Government of National Unity recently took up its duties.
On his arrival in Tripoli, Foreign Minister Maas made the following statement:
Developments in Libya have been among the few bright spots in foreign policy over the past year. In a country that one year ago was still ravaged by war, there is now a ceasefire. With the parliament’s confirmation of the Government of National Unity under Prime Minister AlDabaiba and the peaceful transfer of power, Libya has taken a decisive step forward.
However, Germany and its partners believe that much remains to be done in order to bring lasting stabilisation and peace to Libya. “Today,” Maas said, “I am travelling to Tripoli with my French and Italian counterparts as a sign of our support for the new Government of National Unity, as it takes its first steps down this path.
Large tasks await the new government – Europe is there to help
As Libya proceeds from the current ceasefire to lasting peace and reunification, it must accomplish three key tasks: first, provide people throughout the country with medical care and humanitarian assistance; second, prepare for the national elections that have been announced for December; and, third, implement and monitor the ceasefire agreement – which includes the complete withdrawal of foreign troops and fighters. The European Union has a great interest in peace and progress in Libya. That is why the three Foreign Ministers will meet today with the interim Government of National Unity’s Prime Minister Abdelhamid AlDabaiba, Foreign Minister Najla el-Mangoush, and other members of the Libyan cabinet. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, will also take part in the meeting. Last but not least, the agenda includes talks with civil society representatives.
The Berlin Process and the EU’s Operation IRINI
Certainly since the Berlin Conference on Libya in early 2020, Germany has played a prominent part in efforts to bring peace to Libya. The conference remains the point of reference for all diplomatic progress, because it was in Berlin that all states involved in Libya pledged for the first time to support intra-Libyan reconciliation and to respect the UN arms embargo. And that, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised yesterday during his speech in the German Bundestag, laid the foundation for recent progress.
One important pillar of the peace efforts is compliance with the arms embargo that was instated by the UN Security Council. Germany and its partners strongly believe that violations of the embargo must stop – for, despite recent progress, arms, munitions and fighters are still getting into Libya. Pressure from the international community and controls remain crucial in this regard. The EU’s Operation IRINI, for which Foreign Minister Maas yesterday requested an extension in the Bundestag, is tasked with implementing the arms embargo. In 2020, the operation’s vessels and aircraft were deployed in more than 2300 instances to check ships’ particulars, and in almost 100 instances vessels were boarded. On land, the operation monitored 25 airports and their associated air traffic movements. These activities are intended to unnerve arms smugglers and to uncover the state actors behind them – because those who fear that their illegal dealings will be discovered are less likely to take the risk.
Aid for Libya
Germany is providing assistance to the people in need in Libya – refugees, migrants and the civilian population. Germany has made available more than 45 million euro for the protection of refugees via the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and since the end of 2017 more than 5500 persons in particular need of protection have been evacuated from Libya. Through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, Germany has provided 121 million euro to the International Organization for Migration that are being spent on assistance for the return of migrants and on protection measures. As part of the efforts to fight COVID-19, the German Government also gave the Libyan healthcare system 9.5 million euro in additional funding in 2020. Moreover, by the end of May, the country will receive 300,000 doses of vaccine via the COVAX Facility.