Mitsotakis: Foreign Forces Must Leave Libya – Al Marsad

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his deep appreciation for the Prime Minister of the interim Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdul Hamid Dbaiba’s invitation visit him in Libya.

(Libya, 7 April 2021) – During the joint press conference on Tuesday in Tripoli, in which the Greech Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated the inauguration of the new interim government in in Libya and the new bilateral relations with Greece, and the discussions that followed the phone call between him and Dbaiba ahead of the official visit.

OPENING OF GREEK EMBASSY IN TRIPOLI

Mitsotakis said that the acceptance of the invitation to visit Libya was important because it marks the resumption of the work of the Greek Embassy in Tripoli, which represents a milestone and a dynamic resumption of Greek-Libyan cooperation, and to deliver a message of support for efforts to build peace and progress in Libya.

He also explained that his country will stand by Libya within the framework of the European Union or through the United Nations in the way of achieving fair elections, a normal political life and rebuilding Libya, away from foreign armies and interests. The only criterion is security and prosperity in the neighbourhood and in the Mediterranean.

Mitsotakis expressed that the time has come to leave all that led to the turbulence of bilateral relations during the past period. The resumption of the work of the embassy in Tripoli will be followed by the opening of the Consulate General in Benghazi, which will work to develop cooperation between Libya and Greece in all areas at a fast pace.

GREEK-LIBYAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

He referred to developments in recent decades that have curtailed economic relations, at a time when the presence of Greek businessmen in Libya has never ceased, which means that the stability of the political situation in the country will increase all important activities for both countries.

In his discussions with Dbaiba, Mitsotakis spoke about the prospects for cooperation between Libya and Greece in several sectors, such as energy, construction, maritime transport, health and security, while emphasizing that there are other areas that can be done more to strengthen them, including tourism, education and culture.

“The priority is the complete return of bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, which can be expanded to include renewable energy sources and electrical interconnection projects. Distinctive opportunities emerge in public and private investment, in light of a traditional link between Libya Greece is defence and security,” said the Greek Prime Minister.

LIBYANS RECEIVED TRAINING WITH GREEK ARMED FORCES AND NAVY

Mitsotakis said, “Our link in defense and security is traditional and we remind you that more than 280 Libyan officers have graduated from Greek Armed Forces schools.” He also mentioned that many Libyan Coast Guard officers, who play a leading role in stopping migratory flows, have been trained and are being trained at the Maritime Prevention Center, which was of geopolitical importance, because the coast guard plays a role in preventing the flow of illegal migration.

He added that this joint cooperation between Libya and Greece has solid roots and a flourishing future, and that the basis of the new phase in relations should be based on frankness and a spirit of dialogue, in particular faith in the principles of international legitimacy, which means erasing former mistakes.

MARITIME AGREEMENT WITH TURKEY VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW

Mitsotakis said the precondition for any progress in Libya’s relations with the EU is the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, a request also made by numerous EU countries. He also noted that the issue of maritime zones will affect not only Greek-Libyan relations, but also the North African country’s relations with the European Union. He called on the interim government to scrap an agreement on maritime boundaries signed with Turkey in 2019, which Athens says violates international law.

“And of course for us, it is very important, is the annulment of illegal documents which were presented as supposedly transnational agreements but but have no legal effect, as expressly stated by the European Council,” he added.

EUROPE IS READY TO ASSIST LIBYA

He emphasized that the current period has a strong European influence because the visit of the President of the European Council which coincided with the prime ministers of neighbors closest to Libya, Italy and Malta, both of which have concluded valid maritime border agreements. Mitsotakis said friends stand by the Libyans, because the closest European islands to Libya are Gavdos and Crete.

He said that geography determines the framework of bilateral relations and not the artificial lines drawn by some on maps, which means that Libya is not alone accomplishing the goals that lie ahead with hard work. The European Union and its members are present and determined to support Libyans who have suffered a lot.

GREEK HERITAGE IN LIBYA HAS ANCIENT HISTORY

He pointed out the possibility of joint cooperation to delineate the border between Libya and Greece and to always continue dialogue on the basis of mutual respect for international law; because friendly countries always solve problems, especially since Greek-Libyan relations date back to 2,600 years—to an era in which the people of Santorini traveled and arrived to Libya’s shores.

Mitsotakis concluded by saying that they Greeks had founded Cyrene in Shahhat, then Benghazi and the five Greek cities (the Pentapolis), and planted with Libyans the rare medical plant Silphium that was called the gold of Libya. He said that the gold of the 21st century was peace, cooperation and prosperity.

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)