The EU Will Act in Support of Libya, Said Mogherini in Vienna

External Relations
On Monday, at the end of a meeting in Vienna, the European Union and other world powers issued a joint communiqué saying they would supply Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) with weapons to counter the Islamic State and other militant groups in the region.

Security is key for the future of Libya. The GNA faces critical security challenges, but it does not face them alone,” reads the joint communiqué, “we renew our firm support to Libya’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity. We share the Libyan people’s aspiration to transform Libya into a secure and democratic state, achieve unity and reconciliation, and restore the rule of law and state authority.

The communiqué was issued at the end of talks gathering High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and top officials from more than 20 other nations. The aim of the meeting was to discuss how strengthen Libya’s GNA in fighting Islamic State radicals and how to put to an end its rivalry with a group to the east claiming legitimacy.

The arrangement discussed would involve waiving an arms embargo imposed in 2011 to allow supplying the government with weapons. Meanwhile, France and Britain are also working on a UN resolution allowing European navies to intercept unauthorized arms transfers to Libya.


 European Union’s plan for Libya

After the toppling and death of Moammar Gaddafi five years ago, Libya descended into chaos and quickly turned into a battleground of rival militias battling for powers. More recently, thanks to the power vacuum, the Islamic State radicals managed to expand their presence in the country, separated from Europe only by a relatively small stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.

For this reason, the European Union has already financed 100 million Euros to support Libya: “we have already launched our first humanitarian projects, helping local authorities and the central government, but also civil society organisations,” said the High Commissioner Mogherini at the end of the meeting.

In addition, now that the earlier route from Turkey into Greece has been essentially closed, Europe is concerned by the potential threat of a mass influx of refugees amassing in Libya.

We are working with the Libyan authorities to train their police forces, to secure their territory and their land borders,” Mogherini added, “We have also begun to plan for the coastguard’s training, with our naval operation Sophia.”


 Boots on the ground? Not from the EU

As for the possibility of sending a military contingent with the task of ensuring security at UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported while Italy has no plans to send troops until the situation stabilizes. Instead, the military contingent to be sent in Libya will come from Nepal.

Reports in March seemed to suggest that Italy might send up to 5,000 troops, and the U.S. ambassador to Rome spoke publicly about that prospect. By late April, it was said that the number may be closer to 900.

But, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Sunday wrote that Italy has no plans to send troops as long as the situation is still unstable, as reports on confirm.

Reports also stress the high risk for soldiers from Europe and the United States being perceived as invaders. Therefore, despite operating within a UN framework, they might become the target of retaliation. As a result, Prime minister Matteo Renzi has decided not to take any risks and to stick to the line he had already proposed in recent weeks.

 Italy is more committed to finding a diplomatic solution, and it is no coincidence that the foreign ministry reiterated in a statement that “the unity and stability of Libya remain our priority”.

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