Everyone agreed that “we want to respect the arms embargo and that it is controlled more than it was in the past,” said the host, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel after the conference in Berlin. The European partners had come much closer to one another in their positions in the Libya conflict. At the final press conference, Merkel emphasized that she now feels that the Europeans are closer than two years ago.
A statement by 16 states and organizations said international efforts to monitor the embargo should be stepped up. Violations of an armistice are to be sanctioned. A comprehensive demobilization and disarmament of the militias is also demanded. It was also agreed that there should be “no further military support” for the Libyan parties to the conflict.
Both Merkel and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized that there was no military solution to the civil war in the North African country. All conference participants agreed on this, both reported unanimously. Guterres called on all participants not to do anything that could interfere with the path to a peaceful solution.
The final paper formulates a new political process aimed at strengthening central institutions and aiming to return to the political process led by the United Nations. A reform of the security sector must restore the state’s monopoly on violence, it says. Respect for international humanitarian law and human rights is required. Those responsible for attacks on civilians and inhabited areas, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence, torture and people smuggling must be held responsible. The conference also calls for a transparent and fair distribution of oil revenues in the country.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed to send experts from their countries to Libya immediately before the conference. Moscow was also open-minded.
Merkel spoke of a comprehensive agreement on political steps for a peace solution under the umbrella of the United Nations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who left the conference earlier, also praised the results as progress towards a full ceasefire. The German chancellor also emphasized that the summit was only a first step in a longer process. “I have no illusions that this will of course still be a difficult journey,” she said.
Russia rated the meeting as useful and a “small step forward”. Both sides of the conflict would now send five representatives to a military committee to explore further steps for a lasting ceasefire, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Interfax agency at the end of the conference.
The UN special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, was also extremely satisfied. “Today was a great day to give us a boost and the work ethic to keep going.”
A total of 16 states and organizations were represented at the meeting in Berlin. Pompeo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin left the Berlin Libya conference before the final press conference began. The Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj – he leads the internationally recognized government in Tripoli – and his opponent General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by a kind of counter-government in the east of the country (Tobruk), also came. Sarraj and Haftar did not meet face to face, however, and each spoke separately with Merkel and the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
The Berlin Libya conference should now be followed by the first steps to implementing the results. There should be a first meeting soon, which should lay the foundation for a firm ceasefire, said Merkel. There is currently only a ceasefire in the civil war country.
A civil war broke out in Libya in 2011 after the overthrow and killing of long-time ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi. Sarraj is internationally recognized, but only holds small areas around the capital Tripoli in the west of the country. The influential General Haftar fights Sarraj with his allies who rule large parts of the oil-rich country and are also supported from abroad.
The background was that the alliance Fajr Libia (“Libya Dawn”), ruled by Islamist forces and former rebels, did not want to acknowledge its electoral defeat and seized power in Tripoli. The newly elected parliament, on the other hand, moved to the east and also claimed power. The Sarraj government started its work in Tripoli in 2016. It came into being as a result of an agreement on the sharing of power in Libya under UN mediation.
On Monday, the EU foreign ministers, including Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP), will discuss the situation in Libya in Brussels. Maas and the EU’s foreign representative, Josep Borrell, who also attended the conference in Berlin, will inform the chief diplomats about the results of the summit.