Borrell Sees a Glimmer of Hope to End Conflict and Chaos in Libya

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According to a report published by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, spoke about the latest developments in Libya. The EU official indicated that there is a glimmer of hope to end the conflict and chaos that has spread in the country over the last nine years.

Borrell said that he had visited Libya on Tuesday and held meetings with local authorities, shortly after the ceasefire agreement was announced on August 21.

He pointed out that the aim of his visit was to explore further EU support that could be provided to implement the ceasefire and help resolve the Libyan conflict. “There is a glimmer of hope that we need to build on,” he noted.

“Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Libya, the county of 6.7 million inhabitants and potentially very rich with immense oil reserves, has been beset by violent conflicts between different factions and militias, as well as outside players and actors,” Borrell stated.

Ten years of violent conflicts

The EU top diplomat pointed out that the Libyan people have suffered enormously and that the instability in the country has had negative spill-over effects on regional security, thus affecting neighbouring countries and the whole Sahel region.

Borrell also noted that the North African country served as a major route for human trafficking and irregular migration to Europe. Located only a few kilometres away from the European coast, Libya’s chronic instability has long been a major concern for the EU.

He added that foreign interference in Libya has increased in recent months, in spite of the United Nations’ arms embargo. The parties to the conflict continue to receive arms, mercenaries and financial support, while some countries have even sent troops or threatened to do so.

The Libyan people faced with very difficult living conditions, aggravated by the Covid-19 outbreak, are exasperated by the continuing civil war.

Fighting has also led to a prolonged freeze on Libya’s oil production and exports, which is the main source of revenue for the country.

A rare piece of good news

Borrell went on to say that a rare piece of good news came when Al-Sarraj and the Parliament Speaker Ageela Saleh, based in eastern Libya, agreed to call for a ceasefire and the unblocking of the country’s oil production.

The EU official made sure to point out that he had visited Libya to observe the situation first-hand and discuss possible ways forward for an effective implementation of the ceasefire as well as ways to put the Berlin process back on track.

“In my meetings with Fayez Al-Sarraj, Ageela Saleh and the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Mustafa Sanalla, we discussed ways for making the political efforts successful, and for lifting the blockade on oil production and exports,” he specified.

Borrell also underlined the EU’s commitment to help rebuild Libya by saying that “it is in our very own interest.” He also stressed the importance the EU gives to Libya preserving its territorial integrity and enabling its citizens to decide their own future, free from external interference.

“A stable and peaceful Libya could be a solid partner for the EU and the region to collaborate effectively on economic development, energy, trade, security, education, and migration,” Borrell noted.

EU Operation IRINI has proven its utility

The EU top diplomat also discussed the EU naval Operation IRINI, which monitors the arms embargo in the Mediterranean in line with a UNSC mandate. So far, the operation has conducted more than 600 hailings of vessels to implement the arms embargo and prevent oil-smuggling.

“The situation in Libya remains very complex and difficult. However, we see a glimmer of hope and I was encouraged by all my interlocutors’ commitment to the Berlin process as the way out of the Libyan stalemate, as well as their shared desire to ensure that foreign fighters leave the country,” Borrell concluded.