MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russia will take part in the international conference on Libya, which will be held in Berlin on January 19, as Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference on the achievements of Russian diplomacy in 2019.
"We will take part in the conference, which will be held in Berlin on Sunday," he said.
As Sergey Lavrov commented, the commitment of rival parties in the Libyan conflict to truce is a step forward and preserving the ceasefire is strongly desirable.
"It is most important that truce is observed," he stated. "It is a certain step forward and hopefully it will be preserved, preferably for an indefinite period of time. At least, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently had a meeting with [Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Field Marshal Khalifa] Haftar in Benghazi and the marshal reaffirmed his commitment to the ceasefire. That is useful."
The diplomat recalled that Russia invited representatives of Libya’s east and west to Moscow in response to a proposal by Turkish colleagues. "They accepted our invitation and for a few hours we held talks with delegations of Marshal Haftar and President of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa on one side and head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj and High Council of State Chairperson Khalid al-Mishri on the other," he continued. "There is a text that we see as rather balanced which urges to back ceasefire and launch political process. Sarraj and al-Mishri signed it, while Marshal Haftar and Saleh asked for more time."
According to Lavrov, the key mistake in the Libyan settlement was made by NATO in 2011 "when the decision was taken to bomb Libya and oust the regime in violation of the UN Security Council resolution." "The Libyan statehood has been in ruins ever since, efforts to restore it are failing still," he added. "There were a lot of attempts to help Libyan parties to reach some sort of agreement and bring their country back to a normal state."
"There was the Skhirat Agreement that is still viewed by majority of foreign actors as containing basic principles of the Libyan settlement," the diplomat stressed. "Life goes on, of course, and certain nuances can be added, even more so that there were Abu Dhabi agreements reached in early 2019 regarding the makeup of state power in Libya, but they unfortunately were not implemented. A conference was held in Paris which even agreed a specific date for elections that were supposed to take place, but as we know we should never get ahead of ourselves and set the all too concrete results. Diplomacy is a gradual process, after all."
Final documents of Berlin conference
The final documents of the Berlin conference on Libyan regulation have been practically approved during the preparatory meetings, the acting foreign minister revealed.
"We took part in all the five preparatory meetings. The final documents are practically approved now. They are in full accordance with the decisions taken by the [UN] Security Council on Libyan regulation. They do not include any points contradicting the Security Council’s decisions," the acting minister informed.
Russia hopes that the UN Security Council will back the decisions of the Berlin conference on Libya, Lavrov claimed. "The most important thing now is that after the Berlin conference everything should go as planned and the Security Council should support the outcomes of the Berlin conference," he noted.
The international conference on Libya will take place on January 19 in Berlin. The Berlin process is aimed to put an end to the hostilities between the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) sitting in Tripoli. High-ranking representatives of Russia, the US, China, the UK, Italy, France, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates are set to take part in the conference, along with officials of the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League. Haftar and al-Sarraj also confirmed their participation in the conference.
On January 12 at midnight, a ceasefire proposed by the Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered into force in Libya as part of a larger initiative to achieve peace in the country. The ceasefire’s objective is to stop hostilities between the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) sitting in Tripoli. On January 13, representatives of the parties to the conflict arrived in Moscow for talks after which GNA envoys signed the ceasefire agreement.
Haftar took a pause to study the agreement. However, later he left Moscow without putting his signature to the document, claiming that he needed time to discuss the agreements reached with leaders of tribes that support him. In the early hours of January 14, armed clashes re-erupted in south Tripoli — the target of a decisive offensive declared by Haftar in December. The LNA issued a statement declaring "readiness and determination to achieve victory." However, Haftar had a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday and expressed readiness to honor the ceasefire in the country.
To break the deadlock, Germany is planning to hold an international conference on the Libyan settlement in Berlin on January 19, officially inviting Haftar and Sarraj to attend it earlier.