Germany, UN to host Libya conference
Talks will focus on the national elections planned for December and the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries.
Germany and the United Nations plan to host a conference on Libya in Berlin on June 23, a gathering that aims to bring together powers with interests in the North African country and its transitional government.
The conference, announced on Tuesday by Germany, will take stock of the “next steps needed for a sustainable stabilisation of the country”, read a statement by the country’s foreign ministry.
Talks will mainly focus on preparations for national elections planned for December 24, as well as the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya. They will also look at the creation of unified security forces for the North African country.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas underlined that the bid for peace has been a long process and “we ourselves were often not sure if the targets we have set can be reached”.
“But after the developments in recent months, we are cautiously optimistic and therefore it also makes sense to invite participants of the first Libyan conference at the foreign ministers’ level to ensure that the path that has now been taken in Libya is continued,” he said at a news conference.
The meeting will take place at the level of foreign ministers and follows up on a first Berlin conference held in January 2020 at which leaders agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya’s warring parties to reach a full ceasefire. Germany has been trying to act as an intermediary.
The countries that have been involved in the process include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Italy, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The Berlin conference will mark the first time that the Libyan transitional government is represented at such an event, the German foreign ministry said in a statement.
It will “take stock of progress” since the first Berlin gathering and discuss “the next steps needed for a sustainable stabilisation”, it added.
“The main focus will be on preparations for the national elections scheduled for December 24 and on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya as agreed in the cease-fire,” the ministry statement said. “In addition, steps towards the creation of unified Libyan security forces will be discussed.”
Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The oil-rich country later split between a UN-recognised government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2019, eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his forces, backed by Egypt and the UAE, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. His 14-month-long campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-recognised government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
An October ceasefire agreement that included a demand that all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days led to a deal on the transitional government and December elections. The government took office in February.