EU ministers and Borrell urge Turkey to stop interfering in Libya

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The ministers and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “continuing outside interference is fuelling the crisis” in the North African country | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The EU’s top diplomat and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, the U.K. and Italy on Tuesday called on Turkey to stop interfering in Libya.

In a joint statement following a meeting at the Brussels HQ of the European External Action Service, the ministers and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “continuing outside interference is fuelling the crisis” in the North African country. “The more the Libyan warring parties rely on foreign military assistance, the more they give external actors undue influence on sovereign Libyan decisions.”

Recently there have been reports of Russian mercenaries supporting Khalifa Haftar, who enjoys the support of Egypt, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and France. In recent days Turkey announced its intention to send troops to support Haftar’s opponent, the United Nations-backed Tripoli government led by Fayez al-Sarraj. On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a live television interview that Ankara had started deploying troops to Libya.

In a short press conference after Tuesday’s meeting, Borrell said that “external interference has been increasing in the last days” and when pressed on who he was referring to, answered “I’m making reference to the interference of Turkey.”

The four EU ministers and Borrell were supposed to meet in Tripoli but for security reasons held their talks in Brussels. Diplomats said the Europeans want to sit down with both sides in Libya and try to work out a political solution to the conflict (a summit on Libya in Berlin is expected to be held later this month).

“There is still a lot of work to be done. And that is why we have agreed that, as of tomorrow, talks will also be held with the parties in Libya in order to create the conditions for a political solution to be found,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters after the meeting.

Libya will be discussed on Friday at an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers called to discuss the situation in Iran and Iraq after the U.S killing of a top Iranian general.

On Wednesday, Erdoğan will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Turkey, with one worried diplomat saying “most likely they will start to discuss the partition of their areas of influence in the Mediterranean.”

“Europe is struggling to find a role,” the diplomat said.

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