Greece called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya on Friday during an international meeting with leaders from 30 countries and organizations in Paris.
The international conference on Libya, aimed at ensuring Libya sticks to a plan to hold elections in December and turn a new page in its history, was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
It was the first of its kind attended by Greece and Cyprus through the participation of PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Nicos Anastasiades.
Using careful diplomatic language, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Twitter that he had held a phone call with Jan Kubis, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Libya, and noted that Athens was dissatisfied with not receiving an invitation.
“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,” he had said.
Greece wants to restart talks with Libya on maritime zones
Mitsotakis said that Greece is ready to collaborate with Libya’s new government which will result from December’s elections, both in bilateral terms and also as a member country of the European Union.
He also said that Greece is prepared to restart talks for the delimitation of maritime zones with a truly representative government of Libya, elected freely by the Libyan people and respecting international laws.
As Libya’s neighboring country, Greece would like to see Libyans live securely and prosper, guided by an accountable and strong government that has rid itself of foreign influences and ties to the past, noted the Greek premier. But the key to peace and stability in Libya is the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries as soon as possible, he added.
PM Mitsotakis thanked French President Macron for organizing the Paris conference on Libya and expressed his satisfaction with Greece’s participation as Libya’s nearest neighbor to the north.
Libya to hold elections on December 24
Libya has been mired in civil war since the overthrow of its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, with the bloodshed drawing in competing Libyan factions and armed groups, as well as regional powers.
The presidential vote on December 24, along with legislative elections, are the core parts of a United Nations plan to help restore stability, but this schedule has been under pressure as tensions resume between rival camps, Al Jazeera reports.
Macron wants the conference to endorse a plan for the departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, a French presidential official told the news outlet.
Paris initially aimed to have the Turkish and Russian heads of state attending the conference as well, but both Ankara and Moscow have sent lower-level representatives, perhaps demonstrating the complications with removing foreign forces.
Greek PM Mitsotakis also held a brief meeting with US Vice-President Kamala Harris at the conference.
According to government sources, they discussed the recent signing of the 5-year extension of the Greece-US Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), and the possible dates of the Greek premier’s next visit to the United States.