By Sami Zaptia.
London, 14 June 2021:
At a joint press conference Thursday with Libya’s Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush, British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said all foreign forces and mercenaries must be withdrawn from Libya without any delay.
Opening the press conference Mangoush said ‘‘We welcome your visit to Libya and the visit of the Minister of Defence, and we appreciate your support for the Government of National Unity, and we value excellence and British involvement in the success of the outcomes of the Berlin Conference, which aims to stabilize Libya and the success of the political process.
We look forward to your support for the Libyan vision during the Berlin Conference 2. We welcome the personal interest of the British Prime Minister in the Libyan issue. We also welcome Britain’s offer to provide technical support to support the political track and the electoral process.
We also appreciate Britain’s willingness to work to put pressure on the countries interfering in Libya, in order to support Libya in making its own political and sovereign decision.
We stress the need to coordinate and strengthen international positions towards the Libyan crisis through the establishment of a Libya Stability Group, headed by a Libyan, and we look forward to the UK’s support for it.
Libya’s engagement and the consistency of its official positions with Security Council resolutions related to Libya, and the international determination in particular is matched by a firm Libyan will to reach stability.
We affirm with you and through you the neighbouring countries, the region, and the whole world that Libya will not be a rear base, neither officially nor in fact, to destabilize security and stability in the region. Its lands and airspace will not be a base for any force, nor will any state except the Libyan state itself.
We look forward to starting a strategic partnership with the United Kingdom in all fields, and we stress the importance of cooperation in all areas, the most important of which are security, administrative and financial, and support the development of these sectors. We invite you to resume the work of the embassy in Tripoli and to open a consulate in Benghazi.’’
‘‘I extend my deep thanks and appreciation for the warm reception and hospitality by all Libyans during my visit to Libya. It is a pleasure to visit Tripoli in these pivotal times for all of Libya and for all the Libyan people where initial progress has been made in the political process.
Following the October 2020 ceasefire agreement, the UN-led political process, and the UN Security Council resolution drafted by the UK in April this year. Libyans now have a real chance to write the next chapter in their country’s history.
The next step will be to hold elections in December. It now depends on the House of Representatives and the High Council of State to prove that they can bring about real positive change as representatives of the Libyan people. They can do so by responding to the call of the UN Special Envoy, Jan Kubis, to clarify the legislative and constitutional basis before the Berlin conference later this month.
The elections should be a stepping stone towards 2022 to be a brighter year for Libya. Successful elections will require more than just legislation. The transitional government of national unity must do the serious work, with the support of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the international community.
The government must ensure an enabling environment for safe, fair and inclusive elections. This includes measures to enable women to participate fully, equitably and meaningfully – as candidates and as voters.
I congratulate Ms. Mangoush on being the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs of Libya. She is also the fifth female foreign minister in the Arab world. It should inspire Libyan women and men to work and persevere, including to work towards the success of the December elections.
Libya has gone through hard times since 2011. But what unites the Libyan people is much greater than what divides them. One of the principles that unite Libyans is the rejection of foreign military intervention in their country, in contravention of the UN arms embargo. Our position has been clear with the Foreign Secretary today, just as the UK has done with international partners – that all foreign forces and mercenaries must be withdrawn from Libya without any delay.
Bilateral relations between the UK and Libya are built on solid foundations. We in the Foreign Office and our embassy staff in Tripoli, across the Libyan political spectrum, are often reminded of the important historical ties between our two countries. The UK wants to deepen its relations with Libya – culturally and commercially.
I am pleased that in 2020, through the British Council, more than 500 young men and women from all over Libya, participated in the training on political debates and dialogues, and more than 600 people underwent the services of the British Council in Libya, be it English language training for education International Higher Education or International Examinations for School Examinations in the UK.
The UK’s desire to do more business in Libya has been demonstrated by the appointment of a new Trade Envoy to Libya by the British Prime Minister, and I hope he will visit Libya soon, coinciding with the visit of British companies to Libya, which we know are keen to increase their activities in Libya.
In the field of trade, I discussed with the Libyan Minister of Economy and Trade, our common goal of increasing our trade links. I am pleased to be able to announce the British support project for the electricity grid in Libya, by adding renewable energy supplies and using energy efficiency measures. This will ensure a more stable supply of electricity to the Libyan people, as well as help support Libyan plans to reduce carbon emissions ahead of the Climate Summit (COP26).
I am very pleased with the Government of National Unity’s support of the Paris Climate Agreement, and its determination to Presented to the House of Representatives for approval. This demonstrates the commitment of Libyans to address climate change, and also shows what can be achieved through a more stable Libya. The UK looks forward to hosting the distinguished Libyan delegation, which will take part in the COP26 summit in November in Glasgow.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dabaiba to London in the coming weeks. This will be a timely visit and will focus on preparations for the upcoming Berlin Conference.
All of these efforts are a reflection of the UK’s desire to be a ‘force for good’ in Libya and the region as a whole.
We are proud to support Libyan organizations and civil society in Libya as they work together to build a safer and more stable Libya. This includes our support to make areas safe for citizens, by supporting mine clearance projects. We also support local peacebuilding initiatives, with a special focus, on women activists who are peacebuilders. Libya is a priority country for the UK’s efforts on women, peace and security, and we are pleased to support women’s organizations working to combat the global pandemic (coronavirus).
I hope this British support, as well as my presence today in Libya, demonstrates the UK’s strong desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with all Libyans – east, west and south, as they take the critical steps towards greater stability, reconciliation and national unity.’’