NEWS

Flurry of Greek diplomacy before summit on Libya

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU, VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Diplomacy, Politics

In a culmination of the government’s flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of Sunday's Berlin conference on Libya, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, expressing his displeasure that Greece has not been invited.

According to government sources, Mitsotakis also raised Greece’s mounting concern about security in the Eastern Mediterranean region due to destabilizing actions by Turkey – not least the memorandums it signed with the Tripoli-based government which, he said, are “invalid.”

He also invited Merkel and European Union representatives participating in Sunday's conference to implement the decision of the last European Council, which declared the Turkey-Libya pact illegal.

The same sources said Mitsotakis also reiterated that Greece will veto any decision regarding the Libya crisis unless the Tripoli-Ankara memorandum is canceled.

Mitsotakis had said in a television interview on Thursday that if the accord is not canceled, Greece will veto any decision on Libya at the next European summit. 

For her part, Merkel reportedly said that the EU remained committed to its previously stated positions on the Ankara-Tripoli maritime zones agreement, but insisted that the Berlin summit would not deal with matters relating to maritime zones in the East Med.

Earlier on Friday, talks between Greek government officials and Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in Athens yielded the commander’s clear opposition to the Tripoli-Ankara memorandums.

According to sources, the Libyan military leader is prepared to seek the annulment of those agreements while also being open to talks that would lead to the delineation of maritime zones between Greece and Libya.

During his 40-minute meeting with Mitsotakis, Haftar briefed the premier on his plans ahead of Sunday's conference. Arriving for the meeting, Haftar was quoted as saying: “We are pacifists. We have come here to talk about peace.”

Sources in Mitsotakis’ office said Haftar stressed the unproductive role of external interventions in his country and condemned the intervention of Turkey, adding that the maritime borders pact is invalid as it violates international law and was signed with a government that is not legitimate.

Mitsotakis stressed the need for a political solution to the Libyan crisis and urged Haftar to assume a constructive approach at the Berlin summit. A ceasefire is the necessary first step, he said.

Following his talks with Haftar earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the Greek government had urged the Libyan commander to participate in the Berlin summit with a “constructive spirit” that would secure a ceasefire, restore security in Libya and recognize “the non-validity” of the maritime borders deal.

He said Greece is prepared to provide help with “the day after” in Libya, either by sending Greek forces to support a peace mission or by joining a European operation that would enforce the arms embargo and end mercenary involvement in Libya.

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