By Vanessa Tomassini.
Milan, 26 November 2017:
Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni told UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé that his government fully backs his Action Plan on Libya during a meeting this morning in Tunis.
Gentiloni, who made the stopover while on his way to Angola, stressed that no one should be deterred by the fast approaching date of 17 December when the Skhirat agreement supposedly lapses. He added that progress made so far on reconciliation and agreements on governance and stability must not be jeopardised. Even greater effort had to be made to further reconciliation and build up a Libyan desire to put national interests first.
While admitting movement on the action plan remained “fragile”, an evidently confident Gentiloni noted that “the action of UN is shifting the situation in a better context”.
“We hope to arrive at elections in 2018 . . . and at the same time ensure a more stable transition and a wider consensus among the parties,” he added.
Both he and Salamé agreed that the progress made since the end of 2015 with the Skhirat agreement must not be lost.
Dialogue was not easy, stressed the Italian PM but “I don’t think there is any other way forward”.
The talks also covered the battle against human traffickers and ways of reducing the flow of migrants through Libya. Libya’s stabilisation would help that, it was agreed. Meanwhile the human rights of migrants and refugees settled in camps had to be protected.
Both men agreed that action on the migrant front needed to be accelerated and coordinated. Italy, Gentiloni said, was open to all ideas, adding that the issue of migrants crossing the Mediterranean had to be at the heart of the European political agenda.