Russian Foreign Ministry: Official Statement on the Situation in Libya

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 3, 2017
The situation in Libya

A couple of days ago, the Russian Foreign Ministry received questions from the publication Politico regarding Russia’s foreign policy on Libya. Let me specify what kinds of questions were posed. Considering Russia’s global lead in resolving the crisis in Syria, does Russia plan to play a leading role in Libya? Does Russia back the power ambitions of General Khalifa Haftar? Does it view his role in the Libyan settlement as political or military in nature? What is Russia’s vision of a plan to stabilise the situation in Libya? Does Russia continue to support the internationally recognised government in Tripoli? We promptly gave Politico detailed answers to all those questions. We did not cherish hope that our position would be reflected fully. But we certainly did not count on what we got in the end. Naturally, the article that followed could be called thematic, in tune with the mainstream. Of the “Russians did it” variety, as I would call it. Given the media harm that the above publication did to us, in spite of the fact that we strove to observe professional and ethical norms while communicating with them, I would like to spell out our answers to its questions, so that mass media and the public could hear Russia’s position on Libya directly from us, rather than from a media outlet which has completely distorted all that is happening on the Libyan track of Russia’s foreign policy.

We have been closely watching the developments in Libya, something you probably already know. Here is an interesting fact. We spoke out on the Libyan issue so many times, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about this so many times, we published detailed commentaries on all our resources, and yet Politico does not see this. Why? I repeat, they did not even see the answers that were prepared specially for them.

We cannot but be concerned over the ongoing confrontation between Tripoli and Tobruk that has led to the virtual paralysis of the entire system of government. As a result of this, socioeconomic problems are becoming worse. Amid the power vacuum, the presence of the ISIS and Al Qaeda continues in some districts, and associated local extremist groups also remain active.

We are not indifferent to the fate of Libya. Our absolute priority is to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of that country. We want Libya to overcome the protracted crisis as soon as possible, to become again a prosperous state, relying on strong government institutions, efficient army and law-enforcement agencies, and to regain the status of an important regional player.

That is why we welcomed the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement on national reconciliation on December 17, 2015, in Skhirat, Morocco. We also supported the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2259, which enshrined the Skhirat agreements as the key element in settling the Libyan crisis. That said, I would like to recall that we initiated the provisions providing for an inclusive political process.

Over one year has passed since then, but the situation has not changed for the better. The Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord established based on the Skhirat Agreement failed to operate efficiently. The priority goals of the transitional period, stipulated by the Skhirat roadmap, have not been reached: the work on the draft constitution has not been completed, and general elections, following which permanent bodies of state authority should have been formed, have not been held.

We believe that Libyans themselves should decide the fate of their country. We consider counter-productive all attempts to impose any ready-made solutions on them. This is our position of principle, not only because it is good in theory, but because nothing else works in practice. We always talk about this to our Western partners and to Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya Martin Kobler.

Incomplete – To be continued…

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation