By Sami Zaptia.
London, 19 March 2021:
Speaking at a press conference with German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas in Berlin yesterday, Jan Kubis thanked Germany for the January 2020 Berlin conference that has led to today’s process of normalization in Libya. He thanked the UN the Secretary-General and his predecessors, Ghassan Salame and Stephanie Williams.
From Berlin to LPDF
He said they had all built on the foundation of the Berlin conference and on the Libya ceasefire agreement. He highlighted Stephanie Williams for creating the strong platform, the Libyan Political Dialogue Process (LPDF), which he said gave impetus to the political process, leading to the Libyan parliament working together.
He said ‘‘We have a new government. We have a new President and Presential Council, recognized domestically with strong legal domestic legitimacy, with strong political domestic legitimacy as well, and recognized by the international community’’.
Kubic said international community support will culminate in yet another Libyan milestone; the planned 24 of December elections.
Delivery of services to the people
‘‘I am very glad to confirm that indeed we now expect the government and the government is full of will to start delivering for the people, to start delivering very quickly on issues like “how to fight COVID?” There is a lot of cases there. They need support, they need support from COVAX. They need support from international partners. They need to work on economic and social issues. They need to address the issue of electricity supplies this summer, not to have a breakdown of the system, if you wish. This is a very wealthy country in perspective. They are exporting oil, they need to use well the funds, in a transparent and accountable way and the people have full confidence that it is coming to the needs of the people.
Need for continued Libyan political unity
And of course, this is still a country divided, let’s not fool ourselves. This is a country that is split, so we expect the government, we expect the presidency, we expect the parliament to work for bringing the country closer and closer together by showing the will to cooperate in spite of their differences. For the time, they have been showing it, in the past weeks, in the past week it showed that they can do it, that there is a political will. We hope that it will continue also in the future. And as I said eventually, we will be happy to accompany the country to the elections on 24 December. In the meantime, in many other activities in the economic, political, social field. Let’s not forget about the military area.
Unwanted foreign forces and mercenaries
The country is still full of unwanted presence of mercenaries or different forces. I am hearing in my meetings with different Libyan actors, it doesn’t matter from which part of the country, it doesn’t matter from which political spectrum, part of the political spectrum they are coming, they do not want to see foreign forces and foreign presence on their territory.
They would like to see the soonest withdrawal of mercenaries from their soil. This is a proud country, a sovereign country of proud and sovereign people. Everyone who can contribute should contribute to this. We as the UN directly, maybe through the monitoring of the ceasefire through other activities, would be happy to help both the country and the international partners to honor the wish of the people of the country, of the authorities and with the international community starting with the Security Council that expressed their will very clearly through the respective resolutions of the Security Council.
A lot of work to be done. The country is still divided but at least there are opportunities. And I see that the Libyan themselves that are taking the lead and not only using the opportunity but hopefully creating new opportunities for the way forward.
Questions and answers
Journalist: As you know Prime Minister Mr Aldabaiba is facing many challenges, apparently that all of them are -let’s say -priority, do you have any plan to support him not only politically to achieve his tasks in a period of 10 months before the elections?
Kubis: From my perspective, I have several discussions with the then Prime Minister-designate and afterwards Prime Minister Mr. Aldabaiba. We heard his vision, his programme of the government. We see a lot of areas where we do support the already the country. And without any details, I can, for example, state that these days today and the coming days there will be sessions of different working groups of the Berlin Process. There will be a session for the Economic Working Group. They will hear presentations from those responsible for the electricity sector, and [from] also minister of Finance and Minister of Economy.
They will try to identify areas in which we – participants in the Berlin Process – will contribute to implementing this work. There will be a security working group of the Berlin Process meeting within several days. This working group will discuss the proper and appropriate conditions for the holding of the elections from the perspectives of the security arrangement. Again, a very practical area that we need to address in support of the country. Speaking about the elections, I had a discussion when I was in Libya several weeks ago, and I plan to travel there in the coming days, once again. I will be in Libya every month for quite a time.
We discussed with the head of the High Electoral Commission the technical assistance that they need to get from the international community including from the United Nations to prepare the elections. We are talking to our colleagues from the World Bank. I had a discussion with them only two days ago, how to come with some areas where the people of the country expect quick wins, quick delivery of services. We plan to discuss it/agree with the Prime Minister and his government not only in principle but clearly on how to implement the plans, through which mechanism where the UN is part of this process. So, these are just some examples. We are working in a very practical mode. And again, what is helping us at this point of time, with strong support from the international community as you heard from Minister Heiko Maas here, and many others are ready to accompany and support the country in this positive trajectory. So, let’s use this opportunity.
Journalist: [translated from German] Question to the Special Envoy: You talked about the Libyans are being unwilling to accept foreign forces presence in their country, will still be necessary to have an international security component in Libya. Will you need such a presence, is it a task of blue helmet mission, is it a task for the UN or for the EU to provide security on the ground, or is it up to the Libyans to do that themselves?
Kubis: Thank you very much for the question. A very important question which gives me a chance maybe to correct a little bit of misperception. The UN is not talking about blue helmets. The UN is not talking about a peacekeeping operation. This is not on the agenda. We respect the sovereignty of the country and this is not what the country is requesting. This is not what the Security Council is requesting. This is not part of the ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire agreement is going to be implemented, is being implemented. For example, very soon we expect the opening of the road between Sirte and the West, Misrata.
It is a matter of days, maximum weeks. Because the work is moving forward very quickly. [inaudible] There will be of course, the monitoring: the local, national Libyan monitoring of the ceasefire facilitating of the full implementation – step by step – of the ceasefire agreement. We will accompany them. That is the idea of ceasefire monitoring. No blue helmets, no peacekeeping. At the request and in the agreement with the government, with the authorities of the country to accompany them. This is a work in progress. I will not go into details. The Advance Team that should prepare ideas how these ceasefire monitors will operate is currently working on the ground.
Today they are working in Sirte trying to see not only the Terms of Reference, objectives, or modalities but also support that is needed for them to be able to operate. There is an intention to present an interim report to the Secretary-General soon. Eventually when the advance team will come after finalizing their work with recommendations. And eventually it will be for the Security Council – in cooperation and coordination with the authorities of Libya – to decide on the best way to resolve this. We respect the will and sovereignty of Libya. This is not a peacekeeping operation. This is not a blue helmet mission. Thank you very much.
Journalist: How would describe the role of the other big players Turkey, Russia, the Emirates right now?
Kubis: Again, allow me to come back to the vision that came from the Berlin Conference. It was the time indeed when the international community under the common messaging sometimes was divided. Now the international community is aligned. It started with a vision that eventually brought the situation to what we have now when you can see from the very beginning of the nomination, the election of then the government in making, the President of the Presidency Council by the LPDF, you saw messages coming from a number of countries that otherwise have slightly different interests perhaps and positions before.
What is happening now is even more pronounced. The international community is coming with messaging of support and commitment. Again, a unique situation in the life of this beautiful country, when two days ago, the President of Tunisia, of a neighboring country came and met with President Menfi and Prime Minister Dabaiba. It is a unique situation. This is telling that neighbors are keenly interested in working together. So, this alignment is now a characteristic of the approach of the international community, and also of the UN, and also of the Security Council.
And also there are organizations that I am happy to confirm that we work and will be working even more closely with organizations like the African Union, like the Arab League, like the European Union, that is working in a much more cohesive way today and the United Nations again to organizing and mobilizing support to the new authorities and the people of the country. Luckily, we are in that phase that what we witnessed a year and a half ago when this vision of the Berlin Conference came. Thank you!
Journalist: Will a new mechanism be created to guarantee the success of the peace process in Libya? And if yes, in what period of time it will be created?
Kubis: Thank you for the question. I don’t think that we need any new mechanism. What we need is to support the Libyan people, the Libyan authorities that are there in delivering. Everything, at least at this point of time, is clear. In the many areas that I mentioned are eventually leading towards the elections. There is an alignment of the international community. The Security Council is very clear of what is expected of Libya and other parties. There is the Berlin Process that is the framework and umbrella, but also a practical platform through the working groups that are delivering in a very practical and tangible way in many areas including human rights, humanitarian laws area. Let’s not forget this very important area of work. There is regional cooperation. Neighboring countries are talking to each other. I mentioned Tunisia. But I know that also others: Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. They are consulting very closely. We don’t need a mechanism. We need action and support for action.