Turkey vows to maintain support for ‘unity, security’ in Libya
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Saturday vowed Turkey’s support for the “unity and security” of Libya during a high-level visit to the North African country ahead of Monday’s NATO summit.
The reason for Turkey’s presence in Libya must be “understood very well”, state-run Anadolu agency cited Turkey’s top defence official as saying. “Turkey is a homeland for Libyans and Libya is a homeland for Turks”.
Akar’s remarks arrived duringa one-day visit to Libya by a Turkish delegation, which was led by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and included Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler, and Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT).
The visit by the top-level government officials came ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday, when the issue of Libya is slated for discussion.
Turkey is heavily involved in Libya and the main backer of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) against Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
“The activities carried out here are very clear and open in terms of international law, transparency and legitimacy,” Akar said. “We have nothing to hide. We have carried out our activities here together with our Libyan brothers and continue to do so.”
In addition to the presence of its own military, Turkey has sent thousands of Syrian mercenaries to Libya after signing a memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation with the GNA last year.
The country withdrew a few thousand mercenaries following a ceasefire agreement in October, but maintains its military presence in al-Watiya airbase and the Misrata base, in addition to a joint military command centre in Tripoli.
Last month, the foreign minister of Libya's interim government, Najla al-Manqoush, called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from the North African country as it heads toward elections later this year.