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Still too early to speak about election date in Libya - Russian contact group

December 03, 2017, 15:51 UTC+3 ROME

Elections influence positively development of the situation

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ROME, December 3. /TASS/. It is impossible to speak about a date for elections in Libya, and it is premature to discuss the issue before an officially registered consent of the parties, head of the Russian contact group on the intra-Libyan settlement at the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Duma (parliament’s lower house) Lev Dengov said in an interview with TASS.

In a comment on statement of the UN envoy on Libya Ghassan Salame at the Mediterranean Dialogues international conference in Rome that the elections may be possible in 2018, the Russian expert said: "If the consent is registered, but does not exist orally only, then that would be a condition for the election process. However, as yet those are words by Salame [that he had received a consent from Libya’s Khalifa Haftar, Fayez al-Sarraj, and from the state council and parliament], but we have not seen a signed document."

"Elections are important, and today they influence positively development of the situation," he said.

"But for that should be ready the Libyans and the state institutions, which are not established fully now," head of the Russian contact group said. "There is no any analysis, any UN analysis of the moods in the society, thus, I understands, it is too early to speak about any time, any month, it is still necessary to analyze the situation and to put on paper positions of the parties."

On sidelines of the conference in Rome, Salame said about the necessary conditions to have the elections before end of the coming year. He also confirmed he is ready to consider Russia’s suggestions on the settlement and to include them into the action plan.

Russia’s position

"Russia has its own position on Libya. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov many times has explained Russia follows the position it is equally close to every party to the conflict and does not support any party more than another. And our work for the recent three years proves it: we have brought [to Moscow] Haftar, those who fought terrorists of the Islamic State (IS, terrorist organization outlawed in Russia - TASS) in Sirte, Saraj and his deputy Ahmed Maiteeq. Now, we are in close contact with the tribes in the south," Dengov said.

Russia "cannot support anybody officially, like it was in Syria with its legitimate President Bashar Assad, if the people in Libya have not elected anyone, have not chosen a political system for the country to use in its development, have not formed the constitution."

"It is impossible to be supporting anybody, it would have contradicted any international regulations," he continued. "To any military interference in Libya should be a UN resolution. Any request for a direct interference could come from a legitimate leader after the country has the constitution."

For Russia, he continued, interests of the Libyans are the cornerstone. "We focus on what the Libyan majority wants, though not undertaking steps. It is unacceptable to tear the country into parts, to be governed by own interests, forgetting that the primary interest is the interest of the Libyans. Even if the international community comes to a decision, but the nation is against it, this decision would not be reliable, and the Libyans have demonstrated they would not accept plans from outside."

Libyans turn to Russia for assistance, because they trust it. "Many Libyans have studied and lived back in the Soviet Union and later in Russia. They want strong relations with Russia. Besides, Russia’s authority in the Muslim world is big, and our support is very important for them," the diplomat said.

Thus, Russia can structure a "reliable dialogue" with all representatives in Tripoli. "Our Defense Ministry has good relations with Tobruk, we cooperate with Misrata," he said. "We have managed to set peace between the eastern tribes and Tripoli and the National Salvation Government."

Russia’s refrain from voting at the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011 [which sanctioned military interference with the civil war in Libya to protect civilians] was "timely," he said. "Since Russia always considers interests of a country’s civilians, and in 2011 we could not undertake the responsibility of taking a decision, which contradicted the Libyans’ will, we allowed them to choose their future. We realize there was somebody behind the protests, though, of course, it is impossible to state there were no problems there - the regime [of Moammar Qaddafi] lasted for 42 years, and the discontent was considerable. Now, we receive dividends from that decision, as nobody was hurt, and we can structure a new dialogue with the authorities, thus we have refrained timely, and now this is proved by results of our work."

The West’s mistakes

The Russian diplomat said the country, interested in the situation in Libya, are unable to analyze what happens there. "This is because of the lack of correct contacts or they do not have a correct understanding due to no direct contacts with people. It is impossible to count how many countries are interested in Libya due to its natural resources and the oil resources. Clearly, this side is not presented, just because it is a delicate matter, and in order to raise it there should be somebody with who to discuss it," he said.

"Surprisingly, some would think something may be achieved if only Saraj and Haftar are brought to a table. There are many factors, both outside and inside, which affect the situation in Libya. The project to implement the peace treaty should be expanded, the problem is wider than just a meeting between Saraj and Haftar, as - we can see - it does not bring results," he continued.

Most people in Libya, he said, have only one dream - to keep their country united and integrated, "though many would want to split it and tear into pieces."

"The Libyans realize their country is rich in resources and history and hope for good future for their children, and this is why they would not leave, they stay to restore it," he said, explaining why Libyans are not among the migrants rushing for Europe (mostly to Italy) from the Libyan coast. "They are not running away. Those who have fled are the ones who escape responsibility for earlier embezzlements.".

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