Foreign Minister stresses need for peaceful resolution to Libyan conflict in official visit to Turkey

In meeting with Turkish counterpart, Evarist Bartolo underlines need for peace in Libya in light of conflict’s dire consequences for Malta

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in an official visit to Ankara
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in an official visit to Ankara

A peaceful resolution to the Libyan conflict is the only way of preventing further serious consequences for Malta and the rest of Europe, Evarist Bartolo said in an official visit to Turkey.

The Foreign Minister met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara on Tuesday, with the two exchanging views about the impact of the unfolding Libyan scenario on migration, and the need for more concerted efforts to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and traffickers.

Bartolo stressed that there is no alternative to the peaceful resolution of the Libyan conflict, and augured that the parties involved would arrive at a lasting ceasefire for the common good of the Libyan people.

The minister elaborated that the solution to the situation in Libya should be Libyan-led and should preserve a single and united country, in the hands of the Libyans themselves.

Events in Libya were resulting in dire consequences on Malta and the rest of Europe, Bartolo said, as he emphasised that peace and stability in Libya would translate into peace and security in the Mediterranean as well as in Europe. This made it urgent for the EU to facilitate and provide active support to the resolution of the conflict.

The meeting with Çavuşoğlu is considered important in the light of Malta’s overtures to the NATO country and its withdrawal from EUNAVFOR Irini, the European naval operation considered to be inimical to Turkey’s geopolitical interests.

Libya insists that Operation Irini - which was set up to enforce the Libyan arms embargo and which Malta has withdrawn from - punishes it by attempting to prevent Turkish supplies from across the Eastern Mediterranean.

Irini, run by a joint Italian-Greek command, is also attempting to patrol the seas in which the GNA extended its exclusive economic zone to the Turkish zone.

Çavuşoğlu had back in June said that Operation Irini failed to meet the demands and concerns of the internationally recognised government. “Does it say anything about the warplanes coming to Libya from Syria? Does it look into arms sent from Abu Dhabi? Does it have a report about France supplying arms to Haftar?” he had asked during a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart, Luigi di Maio,

“It’s not objective. Operation Irini does not contribute to a solution to the Libya problem, nor the embargo,” Çavuşoğlu had said.

During their talks, Bartolo and Çavuşoğlu moreover explored areas of possible bilateral cooperation, including trade, investment, education, culture, health, and English language learning.

The two discussed matters of regional importance and in particular common challenges and cooperation opportunities in the Mediterranean.

Bartolo and Çavuşoğlu also signed an agreement between the Maltese and Turkish governments on the gainful occupation of dependants of members of diplomatic missions and consular posts. This agreement enables the spouses of diplomatic officers serving in each other’s country to engage in remunerative employment.

Bartolo’s visit to Turkey comes after he earlier this month met with Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar, who was in Malta on a short visit.