Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 Summit this weekend that Turkey will not be part of the Paris conference on Libya. Greece, Cyprus, and Israel will all be in attendance at the conference. Erdogan explained his position in a press conference on Monday:
“France aims to hold a conference on Libya similar to the previous Berlin conference”, Erdogan said.
“We cannot attend the Paris conference in which Greece, Israel and the Greek Cypriot administration participate. We told Macron that if these countries are to attend the conference, then there is also no need to send special representatives.”
Erdogan has clearly indicated a refusal to work with other countries who are allies — like Greece — with the North African country in which Turkey has a continued military presence.
Erdogan told Macron that Turkey’s relationship with Libya is part of an arrangement with the Libyan government, and is protected under the former Government of National Accord signed in November 2019.
He also denied the accusation that Turkey is an unwanted and illegal mercenary force in Libya, saying that “Our soldiers there are instructors.”
One of the goals of the Paris conference is to get the international community to help Libya stage elections that will lead to the withdrawal of foreign entities occupying the country.
Greece strengthens relationship with Libya ahead of Paris conference
Greece announced earlier this month that it will begin training the Libyan Coast Guard, as part of a broader effort to expand its ties with the North African country.
This announcement comes just a day after the Libyan Investment Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with Enterprise Greece, the nation’s official investment agency.
“The MoU also aims to facilitate and enable the Libyan investments in European and international markets. As well as encourage investment opportunities inside and outside Libya and to benefit from global expertise,” the LIA said.
Greece Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis met with Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Khalil Issa yesterday to discuss the expansion of the two nation’s alliance.
Fragogiannias and Issa both released a joint statement as a result of that meeting. In the statement, Fragogiannias demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Libya, while mentioning that Greece was the first nation to establish a Consulate in Benghazi, and also the first to open up investments with Libya.
Issa said that Libya welcomes Greece’s investment and support of the country, and hopes to build on their relationship.
“What stands out in Greek-Libyan relations is that Greece has never harmed Libya, nor borne any hostility toward Libya,” Issa said, commending Greece’s presence in the Mediterranean, and internationally.