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Top diplomats of Turkey, Germany discuss stability of ‘fragile’ Libya

Top diplomats of Turkey, Germany discuss stability of ‘fragile’ Libya

dpa
Istanbul
Stabilizing Libya while supporting its new unity government and ensuring the exit of foreign mercenaries topped the agenda in talks between Turkey and Germany’s top diplomats.
On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin, months after they signalled a fresh start for Ankara’s contentious ties with the EU.
Maas described their discussions as “constructive,” but recalled the challenging period that Turkey had with the bloc last year.
Foreign troops would have to withdraw from Libya, Maas said, noting the “fragile” political process in the North African country, which plunged into chaos in 2011 after dictator Moamer Gaddafi was toppled.  In March, an interim government took charge in Libya, replacing the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which Turkey supported, and the competing eastern administration backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkey dispatched troops to Libya in 2019 after warlord Khalifa Haftar launched an attack on Tripoli. Ankara maintains its forces are there as part of a training agreement.
On Wednesday, in a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said starting the process of withdrawing foreign soldiers and mercenaries soon would be an important signal.
Cavusoglu, who visited Libya this week, said Turkey supports the country’s leadership as well as the withdrawal of foreign fighters.
However, he cautioned that ending support such as military training would not benefit Libya, adding that it would not be right for a third country to intervene in agreements between two countries.
Cavusoglu and Maas last met in January in Ankara ahead of the resumption of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece over disputed waters.
The stand-off with both Greece and Cyprus last year saw Turkey send research vessels into contested waters, EU allies dispatch ships to the region to back Greece’s claims, and both Ankara and Athens carry out manoeuvres with frigates and fighter jets.
Maas said that he would encourage Turkey as well as Greece and Cyprus to reach a solution, and was convinced it was possible.
This year, Erdogan said Turkey was prepared to put relations with the EU back on track. Ankara is keen to turn a new page in its relationship with its largest trading partner, its fragile economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cavusoglu noted Germany’s contribution to the positive atmosphere of Turkey’s ties with the bloc. However, “it is time to take clear steps,” he said, such as updating Turkey’s 25-year-old customs union with the bloc, without preconditions and visa exemption.

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