Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Turkey’s Erdogan Discusses Libya during Surprise Tunisia Visit

Turkey’s Erdogan Discusses Libya during Surprise Tunisia Visit

Wednesday, 25 December, 2019 - 19:00
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Tunisia's President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia, December 25, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a surprise visit Tunisia on Wednesday for talks with his newly elected counterpart Qais Saied on developments in neighboring Libya.

"We discussed ways to cooperate to reach a ceasefire in Libya and restart the political process," Erdogan said in a press conference after meeting Saied, who took up office as president in October.

The Turkish parliament on Saturday ratified a controversial security and military cooperation deal that was signed with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) last month.

Erdogan has vowed to increase military support to the GNA if needed as it battles an offensive launched by the Libyan National Army in April.

"The impact of the negative developments in Libya is not limited to that country but also affects neighboring countries, Tunisia first and foremost," Erdogan said during his brief visit.

"There must be a ceasefire in Libya as soon as possible."

"If Turkey is invited (to send troops), we will accept, because at least we have an agreement" with the GNA, he added.

On Tuesday Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey’s parliament was working on a draft bill that would allow troop deployment to Libya.

Turkey has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations arms embargo, according to a UN report seen by Reuters last month.

Tunisia shares a long border with Libya and thousands of Libyans have sought refuge on Tunisian soil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising which toppled Moammar al-Gaddafi.

Ankara has received international criticism for its deal with the GNA and a separate maritime jurisdiction agreement, also signed in November.

Part of the deal sets a maritime boundary between the two countries which Greece says does not take into account the island of Crete, at a time when several regional players hope to exploit Mediterranean gas reserves.

Editor Picks