Erdoğan urges EU not to leave Libya at the mercy of Haftar

The upcoming Berlin conference on Libya on Sunday will be a litmus test for the European Union to show its commitment to its core values, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an op-ed, adding that leaving Libya at the mercy of a warlord would be a mistake of historic proportions.

The U.N.-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli has been for several years under attack by the warlord Khalifa Haftar, who “enjoys support from the anti-democratic governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among others,” Erdoğan said in an article published in Politico on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, countries in Europe have been divided about what to do in Libya, with Germany supporting the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and France siding with Haftar, the president said. 

The European Union’s potential failure to adequately support the GNA would be a betrayal of its own core values, including democracy and human rights, Erdoğan said. “To leave Libya at the mercy of a warlord would be a mistake of historic proportions,” he said.

Erdoğan warned European leaders that terrorist organisations like the Islamic State (ISIS) and al Qaeda will find fertile ground to get back on their feet and Europe will face a new wave of irregular refugee influx, in case the legitimate government in Tripoli falls. 

“The EU needs to show the world that it is a relevant actor in the international arena,” Erdoğan said. "The upcoming peace conference in Berlin is a very significant step toward that goal. European leaders, however, ought to talk a little less and focus on taking concrete steps.”

The obvious choice for Europe is to work with Turkey in Libya, as EU countries are not interested in providing military support to the country, while Turkey has already promised military assistance to the GNA, Erdoğan said. 

“Under the most recent security and military cooperation agreements, we pledged to protect the Libyan government from coup plotters,” Erdoğan said. “In this regard, we will train Libya’s security forces and help them combat terrorism, human trafficking and other serious threats against international security.”

Europe can count on Turkey — an old friend and loyal ally — to achieve the goal of ensuring peace in Libya, the president said.