Turkey's President Erdogan and German Chancellor Merkel call for a fragile truce in Libya to be converted into a lasting ceasefire, during a visit by the German leader to Istanbul.

Turkey's President Erdogan and German Chancellor Merkel shake hands after a joint news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, January 24, 2020.
Turkey's President Erdogan and German Chancellor Merkel shake hands after a joint news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, January 24, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey will not leave Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj alone, and it is "determined to provide as much support as it can," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. 

Speaking in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Istanbul, Erdogan said, "We are determined not to leave our Libyan brothers alone during these difficult days."

"Supporting Libya's Government of National Accord [GNA] is not an option, but an obligation pursuant to the UN Resolution 2259.

"Turkey and Germany are giving priority to the solution of problems through dialogue, urging the sides to have common sense and sanity,” he added.

Merkel said, "Fragile ceasefire in Libya must be turned into a permanent one."

"Articles agreed at Berlin summit on Libya will be approved by the UN Security Council," she added.

"I hope the Haftar side will take positive steps," Merkel said. 

Erdogan said Haftar showed "no intention for reconciliation" and criticised his failure to sign the ceasefire document in Berlin on Sunday.

"Haftar has not signed it but only verbally accepted it," said Erdogan. "We do not see this as full acceptance."

Erdogan warned the conflict in Libya risked "chaos [that] will affect all the Mediterranean basin." 

Erdogan and Merkel also inaugurated a new campus for the Turkish-German University in Istanbul, which opens at a time of warming relations between the two countries. 

Merkel described it as "an extraordinary example of cooperation between Turkey and Germany."

Shaky ceasefire

On January 12, parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after renegade commander and warlord Khalifa Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal. 

On Sunday, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire. 

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition. 

Haftar militia's offensive against the GNA has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since April last year.  

Syrians fleeing Idlib 

Meanwhile, Erdogan said it is a "humanitarian responsibility" of the EU and European countries to provide more and immediate assistance to Syrians.

Merkel, on her turn, said her country is ready to provide financial aid to improve the humanitarian situation of Syrians fleeing the conflict-hit province of Idlib.

She also said Germany could support the construction of shelters for civilians fleeing towards Turkey from Idlib.

Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib, Syria into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Since then, more than 1,300 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the Bashar al Assad regime and Russian forces as the ceasefire continued to be violated.

More than one million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies