Foreign Minister Steinmeier after foreign ministers meeting on Libya

13.12.2015 - Press release

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement in Rome on 13 December after the foreign ministers meeting on Libya:

Today, on the third Sunday of Advent, we convened for a conference on the future of Libya. We have not yet entirely achieved our objective in our efforts to establish peace in Libya; nonetheless, this was an important meeting with representatives of the various Libyan conflict parties.

In Germany, the Libyan conflict is overshadowed by others. It has nothing like the prominence, for example, of the crisis in Syria. However, the European Union is Libya’s direct neighbour, so we will be affected if the chaos there grows. We in Europe and Germany itself therefore have a major interest in seeing the destabilisation and chaos there contained. 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. I am therefore very grateful to my Italian counterpart, Paolo Gentiloni, for convening this meeting with not only a large number of foreign ministers representing Arab countries but the US Secretary of State as well.

In that constellation, we discussed how to move forwards in Libya at a time when important conflict parties have agreed on a peace agreement and we now need to consider how to get as many as possible to join in concluding a treaty that will lead to the establishment of a government of national unity.

The delegates in attendance today represent around two thirds of the various factions in Libya itself. 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. Until then, we need to work on getting all those on board who are not convinced about the agreement. The point is to have as many groups as possible sign so that the number of those who might in the end disrupt the agreement is kept as low as possible.

It could work. All those present emphasised their support for the efforts of Martin Kobler, the new UN Special Representative. Naturally, he can also count on our support as he endeavours to bring all the opposition parties to the table in the coming days. Similarly, everyone pledged their support for efforts to combat the humanitarian crisis and for the government of national unity.

I very much hope that this third Sunday of Advent will be remembered in history books as a day that represented a crucial step forwards.

What is Germany prepared to do to help safeguard a possible peace agreement?

We must work from the premise that all Libya’s state structures have collapsed in the last two and a half years. There are basically no administrative structures on which to build. We need to start reconstruction at square one.

One important element will be ensuring the new government has loyal security forces at its disposal. In a country where around 100 different militias are currently fighting each other in varying coalitions, it is essential that the new government be able to rely on loyal security forces. Our debate today covered how training for such forces might be provided outside of Libya. Many declared their willingness to help.

Finally, humanitarian assistance is also vital. The United Nations just costed Libya’s humanitarian need at around 160 million US dollars. A couple of years ago, Libya would take about that much in oil revenues in less than two days. This goes to show what great potential the country has, if only it can get back on its feet. We all have a duty to help make that happen.

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