Tripoli: Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Tuesday underlined the importance of Libya’s sovereignty and independence, noting Ankara’s efforts to resolve the problems in the conflict-torn country.
Akar, along with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and senior Libyan military officials, visited Turkish troops in Libya amid a high-level visit by Turkey’s top diplomatic and military officials to Tripoli. Speaking there, Akar said: “Libya’s sovereignty and independence are important. When we came here, there were various problems. We spent all possible efforts in order to resolve these issues. These efforts came to a point where we have started obtaining important results.”
Turkey will continue to side with friendly and brotherly countries in their legitimate and just causes, in addition to its own struggle to protect its own rights and interests, Akar said.
Highlighting the common history and values that the two countries share, Akar said that Turkish soldiers in Libya aim to protect the rights of their Libyan brothers and support them.
Reiterating that Libya belongs to Libyans and Turkey supports a united sovereign Libya, Akar said: “For the restructuring of armed forces here, and the modernization of the organization, our Libyan brothers continue their works shoulder to shoulder with Turkey.”
In 2019, Ankara and the Tripoli-based internationally recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) reached two separate memorandums of understanding (MoU), one on military cooperation and the other one on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The memorandum on maritime boundaries asserted Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area. Following the military cooperation deal, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Ankara might consider sending troops to Libya if the Libyan government requested it.
Following the deal, the GNA made a formal request for “air, ground and sea” support from the Turkish military to help fend off an offensive by forces loyal to putschist Gen.
Khalifa Haftar, who was attempting to take control of the capital, Tripoli. Turkey supported the GNA against Haftar’s militia and mercenaries.
In early 2020, Turkey has begun deploying troops in Libya to provide consultation and training services to the Libyan Army.
“Until 2020, there was no Turkish presence in Libya. We are a friend for bad times, not good times. In this context, we took every risk by being loyal to our common history and values, and we will keep doing it. The important thing is our unity and solidarity, Libya to reach peace and stability and the continuation of the cease-fire,” Akar said.
Recalling Haftar forces’ killings of innocent people in Tripoli and mass graves in Tarhuna, Akar promised that Turkish officials will continue their efforts including the services of clearing mines and explosives, education, assistance and consultation for the normalization of life in Libya.
According to Libyan official sources, Haftar’s forces and affiliated militias committed war crimes and acts of genocide in the period between April 2019 and June 2020.