Turkey hopeful of Libya ceasefire

The Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday that Turkey is not pessimistic of reaching a permanent cease-fire in Libya, accusing Khalifa Haftar, commander of the east-based army, of not wanting a political settlement.

“We are not pessimistic, but the truth is Haftar does not want peace. Haftar does not want a political process … and seeks a military solution,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a panel in the capital Ankara.

The Turkish officials were disappointed when Haftar left Moscow without signing the truce agreement, he said, adding Russia is continuing an effort to this end.

“I saw it as a disappointment for our Russian friends as well. They did everything in their power and continue to do so,” Cavusoglu stated.

On Monday, Haftar left Moscow without signing the cease-fire agreement that was expected to end the months-long war in and around the Libya’s capital.

Mediated by Russia and Turkey, the aim of the negotiations in Moscow aimed to see a permanent cease-fire in Libya. The negotiations came after a truce in Libya which took effect on Jan. 12.

Cavusoglu said the efforts were still going on to have a cease-fire deal before the Berlin summit at the weekend.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to kick off efforts for a truce in Libya during a meeting in Istanbul last week, the minister said.

The cease-fire came after days of diplomatic efforts to get the warring sides to return to negotiations which were interrupted last April by Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli.

Germany will host an international conference to achieve a permanent cease-fire between Haftar and Fayez al-Serraj, head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya.

Also on Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar expressed hope that Haftar and Serraj will show up in Berlin.

“We are in favor of cease-fire and peace. We do not want the continuation of clashes. Efforts should be focused on a cease-fire so that Libyan parties can engage in talks for a political solution,” he told reporters.

Haftar is intentionally delaying a cease-fire agreement in a bid to undermine the influence of Turkey and Russia ahead of the Berlin peace conference, Akar noted.

“Some powers dislike the Turkish-Russian dominance in pushing for peace. They have given some advice to Haftar. As seen, he did not fully burn the bridges but delayed the cease-fire,” he explained.

The Turkish defense minister, however, refuted media reports that Haftar’s forces have cancelled the truce in Libya, saying “it’s too early to suggest that the cease-fire has fully collapsed.”

“We are currently waiting for the conclusion of the efforts of the Russian side,” he added.

Elaborating the memorandum of understanding for security and military cooperation signed between Turkey and the Serraj administration, Akar said some Turkish troops are in Libya to provide training and advice to the Tripoli-based government.

The North African country has seen an escalation of turmoil that erupted after a NATO-backed uprising killed the former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya is now divided between the GNA in the capital Tripoli and Haftar’s forces in the east and the south.

Turkey and Russia are on opposite pages in Libya as Moscow supports Haftar’s forces.