Bartolo calls for EU-US alliance to gain Libyans’ trust

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo says decisions about Libya must be taken by Libyans themselves and the EU and US must work to gain trust in the north African state

Decisions on Libya must be taken by Libyans themselves, Evarist Bartolo tells EU-US foreign ministers' meeting
Decisions on Libya must be taken by Libyans themselves, Evarist Bartolo tells EU-US foreign ministers' meeting

Evarist Bartolo has encouraged the EU and US to form a united front to gain the trust of Libyans.

The Foreign Minister was speaking during a video conference between EU foreign ministers and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Bartolo told his counterparts that for the EU and US to be relevant in Libya, they had to gain the trust of Libyan interlocutors.

He said that the priority should be to encourage Libyans to form a united front for their own country’s sake.

“If decisions regarding Libya are not taken by Libyans themselves than it will not be in their interest and there will never be long-term stability and peace in the country, and all of this will be against the interest of the EU and the US,” Bartolo said.

The discussions on Libya came at a time when the UN-recognised Government of National Accord based in Tripoli is pushing back the eastern-based forces of General Khalifa Haftar.

The tide turned in favour of the GNA and its militia alliances after Turkey stepped in with military assistance. Haftar had been on a year-long siege of the capital Tripoli.

Haftar enjoys the support of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, while the GNA has the backing of Turkey, Qatar and Italy. France is understood to have provided assistance to Haftar, leaving the EU in a quandary.

The EU has an ongoing sea and air operation in the eastern Mediterranean to monitor the UN arms embargo and stop the trafficking of weapons and illegal trade in oil. The operation has been criticised because it effectively starves one side of the conflict, the GNA, from weapons while doing little to stem the flow of weapons across the Egyptian border from where Haftar gets his backing.

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