Tripoli_ A high-Level political and military Turkish delegation made a visit to Libya on Sunday and met with top Libyan government officials including the President of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Menfi, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, and Khalid Mishri, the head of the High Council of State.
The Turkish delegation which was led by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and included Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler, spy chief Hakan Fidan, communications director Fahrettin Altun and presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, seems to have created some uproar within the ranks of the Libyan Government of National Unity.
Although press reports and social media suggest that the visit itself was controversial in that it was not coordinated with the Libyan protocol officials in the relevant government departments and have created unnecessary uproar at a tense time in the country, President Menfi stressed the depth of the historical relations between Libya and Turkey.
Menfi pointed out during the meeting the importance of enhancing cooperation opportunities and developing bilateral relations between the two countries, as quoted by the Libyan News Agency (LANA).
The high-level delegation from Turkey visited Libya on Saturday upon the instructions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of Monday’s NATO summit, Anadolu Agency reported. A top-level meeting of NATO member states will be held Monday in Brussels.
The Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar arrived announced a day earlier on Friday and landed at Maitiqq International Airport where he was received by the commanders of Turkish forces in Libya and using a part of the airport as a military base.
Part of the controversy of this visit resulted from a statement made by Minister Akar: “We continue to provide training, assistance and advisory support to the Libyan forces to reach international standards, and our goal is the unity, safety and stability of Libya, and the problem lies with Haftar and his supporters”.
Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the armed forces in the east, is considered a national hero by some Libyans for combating terrorism in eastern Libya, and the statement as such has been viewed as undiplomatic and as an interference in internal affairs of the country at a time when the international community is trying hard to bring peace and stability to the country.
Responding to Akar’s statement, the Director of the Moral Guidance Department of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces, Major General Khaled al-Mahjoub, told Sky News TV channel that “Turkey did not show any signs of respect to Libyan sovereignty and the Turkish delegation entered Tripoli with arrogance and without any coordination with the Libyan authorities.”
“Turkey controls the scene in Tripoli and imposes its presence on a fait accompli,” calling for the exit of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya. Libyans will not remain silent over the Turkish occupation,” Mahjoub added.
The office of President Menfi said both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ms. Najal Manghoush and the Minister of Interior Khalid Mazen attended the meeting with the Turkish delegation. During his meeting with Ms. Mangoush, Cavusoglu said they will meet again at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum later this month.
Minister Cavusoglu conveyed the greetings of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to President Menfi and affirmed President Erdogan’s support for the stability and unity of Libya, LANA said. Adding that the Turkish delegation stressed its continuing cooperation with Libya in training, combating illegal immigration and organized crime.
On their part, both deputies of the head of the Presidential Council Mr. Mousa Al-Kouni and Abdullah Alafi held talks with the Turkish delegation and discussed the Second Berlin Conference, Libyan national reconciliation efforts, the holding of elections on December and the departure of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya.