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Moscow hopes Turkey-Libyan GNA memorandum won’t heighten tensions in the Mediterranean

Russian diplomat says Moscow hopes that Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord "will demonstrate political wisdom"
Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Vladimir Gerdo/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Vladimir Gerdo/TASS

MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Russia expects that Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord, which signed memorandums on maritime boundaries and security cooperation, will refrain from moves that could exacerbate the situation in Libya itself and in the Mediterranean, Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in reply to a media query posted on the ministry’s website on Tuesday.

"We expect that the parties that signed the above mentioned memorandums will demonstrate political wisdom and will be refraining from steps that could further aggravate the already difficult situation in Libya and in the Mediterranean in general," the Russian diplomat said.

According to Zakharova, legal evaluation of these documents will be possible only after they are made public. "However, we noted a rather pained reaction from a number of Mediterranean nations, first of all Greece, Cyprus and Egypt," she said. "Despite the Turkish foreign ministry’s official statement that the Turkish-Libyan memorandum on maritime boundaries in no way runs counter to international law, Athens and Nicosia have accused Ankara of violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and infringing upon their interests."

Apart from that, in her words, the signing of the security cooperation memorandum "has given grounds to think that Turkey is seeking to legalize its military support to the Tripoli-based government in its confrontation with Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army by means of blatant breach of the weapons embargo."

"United Nations Secretary General’s envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame has recently said that the document could frustrate preparations for an international meeting on the Libyan settlement in Berlin due to take place later in December. There are questions to Fayez al-Sarraj as well," she added.

Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord signed a memorandum of understanding on November 28 in Istanbul. The document provides for military cooperation, including training of military personnel subordinate to the Tripoli government and strengthening of ties between the parties’ militaries. It also stipulates delimitation of maritime zones between the countries. Both provisions have stirred negative reactions from Greece and Egypt. Libya’s parliament has called on the United Nations to revoke Sarraj’s international mandate.

Currently, Libya has two supreme executive authorities, namely the internationally-recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the interim government of Abdullah al-Thani, seated in the east of the country, along with the elected parliament, which is supported by the Libyan National Army.

In early April, Field Marshal of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar announced the launch of an offensive against Tripoli. Sarraj ordered all military units loyal to him to gear up to defend the capital. The armed confrontation has resulted in hundreds of casualties and destruction of vital infrastructure facilities. Thousands had to flee their homes.