[WATCH] Malta in ‘nobody’s supporters’ club’, Bartolo says of growing foreign influence in Libya

Despite overtures to Turkish influence in Libya to shore up GNA efforts against Russia-backed Haftar, Malta insists it is neutral

Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar (left) with Evarist Bartolo
Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar (left) with Evarist Bartolo
Foreign Minister insists Malta in ‘nobody’s supporters’ club’ amid Libyan conflict

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo has downplayed Malta’s role in the Libyan conflict and overtures to Turkish influence, saying the island is “nobody’s supporters’ club”.

Bartolo, who has led talks with Turkish and Libyan counterparts in support of the United Nations recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, insisted Malta remained a neutral country in the conflict.

“We are not taking any sides. We are talking to everyone,” Bartolo said, who recently held conversations with his Egyptian counterpart on the Libyan conflict, and today said he will be holding a conversation with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates.

Both Egypt and the UAE, together with Russian mercenaries, are supporting Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army in the east to takeover Tripoli.

READ ALSO: 

Turkish defence minister in Malta meeting with Bartolo on Libya situation

Malta affirms ‘neutrality’ in call with Egypt after Ankara meeting with Turkey-GNA alliance

The GNA is backed by strong military and air support from Turkey, whose influence in the Eastern Mediterranean has also angered Greece.

“It is clear: we are a neutral country,” Bartolo told MaltaToday. “We’re not taking sides. We speak to everyone.”

But Bartolo underlined the fact that the GNA was the UN-recognised government and the only interlocutor with Malta on matters that concern it, such as the departure of migrants from its coasts. “Our duty, mindful of our small size, is to be in favour of a united Libya, for a solution found by Libyans between themselves. The faster, the better.”

Bartolo downplayed Malta’s risk in being caught between the two dominant spheres of influence in Libya – Turkey on one side, and Russia, Egypt and France on the other. “We must make sure our country is not used in the conflict. But we must speak to everyone. Our duty is to be in nobody’s supporters’ club – except our own. Where we can, we’ll pitch in a word for peace and prosperity.”

More in National