UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES BY TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU; OTHER CHANGES
By Merve Aydogan and Mahmoud Barakat
ANKARA (AA) - Stressing the strong ties between Türkiye and Libya, the Turkish foreign minister announced in Tripoli on Monday the signing of memorandums of understanding on hydrocarbon and gas between the two countries.
Saying that Türkiye has always stood with Libya and its people in times of need, Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his Libyan counterpart Najla El Mangoush that his country will continue to support Libya without any hesitation.
Cavusoglu, along with a high-level delegation including Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Mehmet Mus, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, and presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, came to the capital of the North African country for talks on bilateral ties and regional issues.
Emphasizing that Türkiye will continue to work with Libya towards the country's peace and stability, Cavusoglu said: "The memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation is an important milestone on the road to stability. We will continue our work within the scope of cooperation to ensure that Libya has a regular army."
He also voiced Türkiye's readiness for economic cooperation and said that during their talks with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the Turkish trade minister stressed Ankara’s readiness to start holding joint economic commission meetings.
Cavusoglu further called on the international community to refrain from any steps that would disrupt peace and stability in Libya while instead supporting Libyans’ efforts in this regard. Türkiye also places importance on the facilitating role that the UN will play in this, Cavusoglu said.
On the countries’ November 2019 maritime jurisdiction agreement, Cavusoglu said the pact secures the interests of both Türkiye and Libya.
Asked if Greece and France might oppose the new deals, Cavusoglu said third countries have no right to interfere with agreements signed between two sovereign states.
"The agreements signed today and before are agreements between two sovereign states, Türkiye and Libya, with a win-win understanding,” he said. “So third countries do not have the right to interfere with the agreements signed by the two sovereign countries. It doesn't matter what they think.”
On elections in Libya, the top Turkish diplomat said this should be a process decided by Libyans, calling for the drawing up of a roadmap in this regard.
"Elections must be held transparently, fairly and democratically. Election results must be embraced by all parties in the country. This is highly important not only for national unity but also for political stability, and Türkiye places great importance on this," he added.
Later, Cavusoglu on Twitter shared a photo of his meeting with Mohammed al-Manfi, head of the Libyan Presidential Council, and reiterated Türkiye’s support for the country’s National Reconciliation Project.
Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted after four decades in power.
For lasting stability in Libya, Türkiye deems the holding of free, fair, nationwide elections as soon as possible crucial, in line with the aspirations of the Libyan people.
Last month, the capital Tripoli saw deadly clashes between forces backing Dbeibeh and those loyal to his rival Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed prime minister by the Tobruk-based parliament.
The violence, the worst since a cease-fire was reached in 2020, came amid military buildups by forces affiliated with Dbeibeh and Bashagha, as both figures claim power and authority in the North African country.
- 'Moving forward to political stability'
For her part, El Mangoush said that talks tackled a number of important topics between the two countries, “especially cooperation in the fields of energy, security training, communications, the media, and diplomacy.”
She underlined that such agreements reflect “the deep historical mutual relations between the two friendly countries.”
She stressed the importance of the new agreement in light of the Ukraine crisis and its repercussions for the world.
El Mangoush said also she spoke with her Turkish counterpart about the Libyan government’s political view on “moving forward to pave the way for political stability” to reach a clear roadmap with determined obligations of Libyan sides to hold elections as well as ensuring international support for the roadmap.
She also mentioned important steps needed to hold elections, particularly resolving the constitutional basis dispute and if there is a persistent disagreement on the issue, she said solutions like referendums or going to the constitutional court should be followed.
“If there is agreement on a constitutional basis, the parliament shall issue a law to regulate it to take effect,” she said.
Such steps, El Mangoush said, shall be followed by scheduling a date for elections by the High National Election Commission, and the Government of National Unity shall be obliged to facilitate security and logistics to hold polls.
“The task of achieving elections in Libya is the responsibility of all, which requires the concerted efforts of the legislative and executive bodies far from any political polarization and avoiding any scenarios that do not meet the aspirations of the Libyan people,” she added.