Berlin’s Libya Peace Conference: Haftar and Turkey to Attend, Angry Athens Excluded

Written by | Saturday, January 18th, 2020

German foreign minister Heiko Mass met the renegade Libyan commander in Benghazi on Thursday (16 January) before key meeting in Berlin in Sunday that is aimed at ending the protracted bloody conflict in the North African country. Khalifa Haftar’s army waging a military offensive to capture the capital Tripoli is committed to a ceasefire, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday, adding that he is also willing to attend a conference in Berlin on Sunday aimed at addressing the conflict. Maas’s comment follows failed efforts by Russia and Turkey to persuade Haftar on his visit to Moscow earlier this week to sign a proposed deal to agree to a lasting ceasefire and halt the offensive on the Libyan capital.
Germany’s decision not to invite Greece to the while Turkey will attend the meeting, has been seen in Athens as diplomatic snub. Along with the two rivals for control of Libya – Faiez el-Serraj, Prime Pinister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also invited a number of countries, including the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, Italy, Turkey, the African Union, the Arab League, the Republic of Congo, Algeria, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. But according to sources close to the Greek government, Haftar was expected to make a stopover in the country’s capital Athens on his way to Berlin to have talks there on Friday with Greece’s prime minister and foreign minister.
Turkey has started deploying its troops into Libya in support of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, with President Erdogan warning on Tuesday (14 January) that his soldiers would not refrain from “teaching a lesson” to Haftar’s eastern Libyan forces if their attacks against the GNA continue. Meanwhile, Libya and Turkey signed two agreements in November 2019, one on military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean. Athens strongly condemned the deal, as in practice it ignores the existence of Greek islands, such as Crete. But while the EU’s key objective in Berlin will be reaching a permanent ceasefire and an arms embargo, Athens demands that the Turkey-Libya MoU should also be explicitly condemned.

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