Results of Libya conference in Italy
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has stormed out of an international conference on Libya organized in Italy over what he described as “attempts to keep Turkey out of the process” in the northern African country. Hurriyet Daliy News reports in its article Turkey’s Vice President Oktay storms out of Libya conference in Italy that Oktay walked out after eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar joined a meeting on the conference’s sidelines with his United Nations-backed rival Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and other leaders, but not Turkey. “Unfortunately, the international community could not manage to unify this morning. Some intervened unilaterally by abusing Italy’s host status as a last minute fait accompli,” Oktay said in a written statement.
The Turkish vice president also accused “some countries” without naming them for “trying to cripple the process [of transformation in Libya] for their own interests.” “Turkey is leaving the conference with deep disappointment,” he added, stressing that what Libya needs for stability is “less foreign intervention, not more.”
Before leaving, Oktay and EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini met in Palermo on the sidelines of the conference. During the closed-door meeting, the two dignitaries also spoke about the efforts to further expand Turkish-EU relations. Oktay and Mogherini also discussed EU funds, which have not been transferred to Syrian target groups in Turkey due to excessive rules arising from EU legislation.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hosted a meeting Nov. 13 of Libya’s rival leaders on the sidelines of a conference aiming to help its former colony crack down on Islamist militants and human trafficking. “I feel sorry that Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay left the conference. I read his remarks and I didn’t see anything negative about Italy. We must admit that there may be special sensitivities in such decisions,” Conte told reporters after the event.
Other leaders attending the Palermo conference, including French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, also participated. The office of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who backs Haftar, confirmed he joined the “mini-summit” Nov. 13 with Conte and other leaders.
Italy’s populist government organized the two-day conference in hopes of making progress on ending Libya’s lawlessness and promoting a U.N. framework for eventual elections.
But expectations were limited, with Haftar’s camp making clear that he was not participating in the conference itself but rather meeting with leaders of neighboring countries on the sidelines. Neither Haftar nor el-Sissi posed for the final conference group photo.
Italy’s anti-migrant government is keen in particular to stem the Libyan-based migrant smuggling networks that have sent hundreds of thousands of would-be refugees to Europe via Italy in recent years.