Dbaiba and Erdogan Sign 6 Agreements in Ankara, Raising Deep Concerns – Al Marsad

Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdul Hamid Dbaiba, arrived in Ankara on Monday with a ministerial delegation to attend the first meeting of the Libya-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, which was established by agreement between the two countries in 2014. Dbaiba’s government signed six bilateral agreements with Turkey. 

(Libya, 13 April 2021) – An official reception ceremony was held for Dbaiba and his accompanying delegation upon arrival in Ankara, where they were received by the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Solmaz.

Upon arrival Dbaiba paid first a visit to the shrine of Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, with the GNU ministers, and then met with Erdogan at the presidential palace. 

REINFORCING THE MARITIME AGREEMENT

Erdogan said to the press after his meeting with Dbaiba that Turkey and Libya were committed to the 2019 maritime demarcation accord in the eastern Mediterranean which he signed by Fayez al-Sarraj. “The maritime accord signed between Turkey and Libya secures national interests and future of both countries … We confirmed our determination on this issue today,” Erdogan said at the news conference.

During his visit to Tripoli last week, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had said to Dbaiba that Greece was opposed to the maritime agreement between Tripoli and Ankara, and called for the agreement to be cancelled. The same message was repeated by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during his visit to Benghazi yesterday. Dendias met with Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Qatrani and noted that Libya’s parliament had not ratified the accord, which Greece considers as having no legal force.

Although the House of Representatives (HoR), has consided the MOUs signed by Turkey with Fayez al-Sarraj as null and void, the interim Libyan Prime Minister Dbaiba insisted that the agreements between the two countries, along with the maritime demarcation agreement, were based on a “valid framework”.

At the meeting in Ankara, the two sides said the MOU signed between Turkey and Libya, especially the navy, was important for the common interests and stability of both countries. They said promoting dialogue and cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean would help to guarantee the rights of all. They said a regional conference should be held to ensure dialogue and cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean.

BILATERAL AGREEMENTS SIGNED

Dbaiba’s delegation held several bilateral talks and side meetings with their Turkish counterparts and signed a total of six agreements:

1) An MOU to establish three power stations in Libya;
2) An MOU to establish a new passenger terminal at Tripoli International Airport;
3) An MOU to build a new shopping centre in Tripoli;
4) An MOU between Turkey and Libya on strategic cooperation in the field of media;
5 ) Protocol to establish a power station in Libya;
6) Joint declaration of the first meeting of the High-level Strategic Cooperation Council between Turkey and Libya.

Libyan observers were surprised by the scale of the ministerial delegation and the number of agreements signed by Dbaiba with Turkey, particularly at a time when Libya is undergoing a sensitive phased when many in the country see Turkey as an occupying power. Several analysts point out that such reconstruction agreements must be put through transparent and competitive tenders and not assigned on the basis of political favouritism by the government. 

STRATEGIC MEDIA COOPERATION

The most controversial event was the signing of a “strategic media cooperation” between Walid al-Lafi and Fahrettin Altun. Lafi’s appointment to the post of Minister of State for Political Affairs was roundly criticised by Libyans for his affiliation to the head of the terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)’s Abdelhakim Belhaj. Lafi was the director of AlNabaa TV, the media arm of Belhaj’s LIFG and also of the terrorist Shura Council of Benghazi.

Fahrettin Altun is an Islamist member of the AKP and Erdogan‘s chief propagandist. Last week he callously accused Greece of harbouring anti-Turkish “terrorists”. 

Turkey has currently over 175 journalists currently in detention, once of the highest rates globally, and over 160 journalists currently in exile.

HIGH-LEVEL STRATEGIC COOPERATION COUNCIL

At the first meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, which was based on an agreement signed in 2014, the Libyan interim government reported that it aimed at “improving the relationship based on friendship and solid brotherhood on the basis of mutual benefit, respect and equality, deepening and diversifying cooperation between the two countries.”

They emphasised the protection of Libya’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and political unity throughout the country. They also stressed that the Presidency Council and the GNU were the only legitimate executive authority for Libya, which came about through the elections held within the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF).

The two sides said that the political problems in Libya can solved within the framework of the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement and the relevant Security Council resolutions, the conclusions of the Berlin Conference and the LPDF roadmap, in addition to the importance of Turkey’s efforts to ensuring a permanent ceasefire.

The two sides also affirmed the need to cooperate against violent extremism, crimes, drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, crimes against cultural and historical heritage, cybercrime, disinformation campaigns, migrant smuggling and cross-border security threats.

They also said the hoped to agree increase the volume of bilateral trade between both countries to US$5 billion. In addition, the bilateral talks spoke about resumption of negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement and Turkish private sector contribution to the reconstruction projects in Libya.

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)