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Erdogan: Haftar, his backers biggest obstacle to peace in Libya |NationalTribune.com

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged increased support for Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) fighting Khalifa Haftar’s forces, calling the renegade military commander and his allies the biggest obstacle to peace in the war-torn country. Speaking at a joint news conference with GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Ankara, Erdogan said on Thursday…

Erdogan: Haftar, his backers biggest obstacle to peace in Libya |NationalTribune.com

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged increased support for Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) fighting Khalifa Haftar’s forces, calling the renegade military commander and his allies the biggest obstacle to peace in the war-torn country.
Speaking at a joint news conference with GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Ankara, Erdogan said on Thursday history would judge those who caused “bloodshed and tears” in Libya by supporting Haftar, whom he described as a “putschist”.
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Erdogan also said a solution to the crisis in Libya can only be achieved politically and through efforts under the auspices of the United Nations.
Turkey and the GNA signed in November a military cooperation pact alongside a maritime demarcation deal, which gives Ankara oil exploration rights in the Mediterranean Sea that Greece and other countries reject.

The Turkish support has been crucial in the GNA’s efforts to push back Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which launched an offensive in April last year to seize Tripoli. On Thursday, after a string of recent military gains, the GNA said it had captured all areas surrounding the Tripoli city administrative area.
Ankara has sent equipment and military personnel to Tripoli following the signing of the agreements and has urged Haftar’s backers to end their support of his eastern-based forces. The LNA has been backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt.
‘Historic stance’
For his part, al-Sarraj thanked Turkey for “its historic and brave stance” in Libya and said the GNA would continue its struggle until Haftar was eliminated.
The latest advance of the GNA around Tripoli is expected to hasten steps towards a potential truce.

Should Khalifa Haftar’s foreign backers rethink their support? I Inside Story

On Monday, the UN said both sides had agreed to resume ceasefire talks, warning that weapons and fighters being flown into Libya in defiance of an embargo threatened a big new escalation.
Several peacemaking efforts in Libya have collapsed or been stalled since clashes began in 2014.
In a flurry of diplomacy, Serraj’s deputy was in Moscow and Haftar was in Egypt this week.
An increased presence in Libya would give Turkey strategic positioning near Egypt, with which ties are strained.
Tensions in Mediterranean 
In the news conference, Erdogan also said Turkey and Libya would advance exploration and drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Libya’s GNA says it regained full control of the capital, Tripoli

If this Ankara goes ahead with the move, Libya will also serve as another foothold for Turkey in the Mediterranean, where Turkey has been at odds with several neighbouring states.
Greece and Cyprus called last year’s maritime deal with Serraj illegal, an accusation Ankara denied.
Greece says Ankara’s maritime deal infringes on Crete’s continental shelf. Turkey – which has also been criticised by Israel and the European Union – says the deal abides by international law and rejects the notion islands can have such shelves.
Turkey previously said it could begin exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean under the GNA deal within three or four months.
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Erdogan

Erdogan willing to meet Greek PM over east Med tensions |NationalTribune.com

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is ready to meet with Greece’s leader to resolve the standoff over energy exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean. The search for gas and oil in the region has sparked a dispute that has seen the two NATO neighbours stage rival air and navy drills in strategic…

Erdogan willing to meet Greek PM over east Med tensions |NationalTribune.com

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is ready to meet with Greece’s leader to resolve the standoff over energy exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
The search for gas and oil in the region has sparked a dispute that has seen the two NATO neighbours stage rival air and navy drills in strategic waters between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
“Could there be a meeting with Greek Prime Minister (Kyriakos) Mitsotakis? What’s essential is what we discuss and in what framework,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers.
“We can meet if there is goodwill. We can talk via videoconference or meet in a third country,” Erdogan said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later on Friday said Greek Ambassador Michael-Christos Diamessi had been summoned to the foreign ministry in Ankara over an item in the Dimokratia newspaper.
The words “F*** off Mr. Erdogan” appeared in Turkish and English next to a photo of the president in the Greek newspaper.
“A Greek newspaper had a vile front page,” Cavusoglu said in Ankara. “We summoned the Greek ambassador to the ministry,” he added, quoted by state news agency Anadolu.
At the centre of the Greece-Turkey dispute was Ankara’s deployment last month of a seismic research vessel, the Oruc Reis, and an accompanying fleet of warships in disputed waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

Turkish officials ended the month-long mission and ordered the vessel back to shore last weekend for maintenance and replenishment.
Erdogan also signalled Oruc Reis would return to its work, while also saying its withdrawal was deliberate.
“If we pulled Oruc Reis back to the port for maintenance, it has a meaning,” he said.
“It means: ‘Let’s give a chance to diplomacy, let’s show a positive approach.'”
‘Open to dialogue’
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Prague on Friday said Greece believed “a dialogue should start and that international law should not be violated. Of course in this area nobody should try to prevail by force”.
He added Greece was “always open to a dialogue with Turkey as regards coastal waters in the exclusive economic zone, provided that Turkey stops its provocative acts in the area”.
Turkey’s Yavuz drillship, meanwhile, will continue its search for oil and gas off Cyprus until October 12 despite international calls to withdraw.
Ankara’s dispute with Athens has sparked a crisis that has drawn in some European Union member states, particularly France which sent navy vessels and fighter jets to the region in support of Greece.
EU leaders are due to discuss possible sanctions against Ankara at their meeting on September 24-25.
“We would like our partners and friends in the EU to draft a list of sanctions which should not be imposed on Turkey immediately but rather serve as an example of sanctions that could be imposed on Turkey if it doesn’t stop its unlawful acts,” Dendias said.
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Erdogan: Turkey will make no concessions in eastern Mediterranean |NationalTribune.com

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned he would make “no concessions” in the eastern Mediterranean and that Ankara is determined to do whatever is necessary to obtain its rights in the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean. Speaking at an event on Wednesday commemorating the 11th-century military victory by Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine empire…

Erdogan: Turkey will make no concessions in eastern Mediterranean |NationalTribune.com

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned he would make “no concessions” in the eastern Mediterranean and that Ankara is determined to do whatever is necessary to obtain its rights in the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean.
Speaking at an event on Wednesday commemorating the 11th-century military victory by Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine empire at Malazgirt, Erdogan also called on Turkey’s counterparts to avoid mistakes that he said would bring their destruction.
“We don’t have our eye on someone else’s territory, sovereignty and interests, but we will make no concessions on that which is ours,” Erdogan said, urging Greece to “avoid wrongs that will be the path to ruin”.
“We will not compromise what is ours… We are determined to do whatever is necessary.”
Later on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers Greece planned to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from six to 12 miles.
Mitsotakis said Italy and Albania had been officially informed about the plan and a bill on the matter would be submitted to parliament very soon.
Such a measure does not affect the Aegean region, off Greece’s eastern and southern coasts, where Turkey has previously warned a similar move by Athens would be a “casus belli”, or cause for war.
Mitsotakis also said his country could eventually extend its territorial waters in other maritime areas where the distance between the two shores is smaller than 24 miles.
‘Honest mediation’
Tensions over energy resources escalated between Turkey and Greece after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel to disputed eastern Mediterranean waters this month, a move Athens has called illegal.
“Greece will defend in the name of law its sovereignty and sovereign rights,” the country’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said. “Greece will defend its national and European borders. It does not have any other choice but to do so.”

Germany has sought to mediate between Ankara and Athens.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece said they wanted to solve the matter through dialogue following separate talks with their German counterpart, Heiko Maas.
Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said Turkey had called Greece “a spoiled child that has unconditional support from the European Union”, and had also stressed the importance of why honest mediation is necessary for dialogue.
“Turkey says it is open to dialogue with Greece only if there is a fair distribution of rights in the eastern Mediterranean,” Koseoglu said.
“But if Athens continues to present conditions for dialogue and doesn’t give up its uncompromising approach in the region, Ankara says a real conflict may become unavoidable.” 

What’s behind rising tensions in Eastern Mediterranean?

Military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean
Meanwhile, France is joining military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Wednesday.
“The eastern Mediterranean is turning into an area of tension. Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception,” Parly said on Twitter, adding that it “should not be a playground for the ambitions of some”.
Three Rafale fighter jets and a warship equipped with a helicopter will be part of the joint military exercises, she said.
Relations between France and Turkey have soured in recent months over Ankara’s actions in NATO, Libya and the Mediterranean.
President Emmanuel Macron has called for the EU to show solidarity with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute over natural gas reserves off Cyprus and the extent of their continental shelves and pushed for further sanctions at EU level, although there are divisions in the bloc over the issue.
“Our message is simple: Priority to dialogue, cooperation and diplomacy so that the eastern Mediterranean becomes an area of stability and respect for international law,” Parly said.
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Turkey’s Erdogan says Egypt’s actions in Libya are ‘illegal’ |NationalTribune.com

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supporting forces based in eastern Libya, after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen who urged Cairo to intervene in the war. Turkey has been providing military aid to the United Nations-recognised government in the Libya conflict, while Egypt,…

Turkey’s Erdogan says Egypt’s actions in Libya are ‘illegal’ |NationalTribune.com

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supporting forces based in eastern Libya, after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen who urged Cairo to intervene in the war.
Turkey has been providing military aid to the United Nations-recognised government in the Libya conflict, while Egypt, the UAE and Russia have backed its foes in a rival administration based in the east.
Recent weeks have seen dramatic military advances by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which drove back forces of the eastern renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar who had launched an assault on Tripoli last year.
Eastern-based legislators called this week for Egypt to intervene in the conflict. El-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen on Thursday and said Egypt would not stand idle in the face of a direct threat to Egyptian and Libyan security.
Asked about the possibility of Egyptian intervention, Erdogan said on Friday Turkey would maintain its support for the GNA.
“Steps taken by Egypt here, especially their siding with the putschist Haftar, show they are in an illegal process,” he said. He also described the approach of the UAE as “piratical”.
El-Sisi said last month Egypt’s army might enter Libya if the Tripoli government and its Turkish allies renewed an assault on the central Sirte-Jufrah front line, seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals, now held by Haftar’s allies.
Libya has been mired in conflict since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was removed in a NATO-backed operation.

Arms embargo
Meanwhile, France’s foreign ministry on Friday rebuffed US assertions that an EU naval mission to enforce a UN weapons embargo for Libya was biased and not serious, saying Washington should itself be doing more to stop the flow of weapons to the North African country.
David Schenker, assistant secretary for Near East Affairs at the US State Department, said on Thursday Europe should go beyond limiting arms-supply interdictions to Turkey by designating Russian military contractor Wagner Group and calling out Moscow and other countries such as the UAE and Egypt over the issue.
In response to Schenker’s comments, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters: “We call on all our partners – starting with the United States – to step up their action, as the European Union is doing, to hinder recurrent violations of the arms embargo and to help relaunch a political process inclusive.”
Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the GNA repel a year-long assault by Haftar.
Turkey accuses France of supporting Haftar politically, having previously given him military assistance to fight armed groups.
France denies this, but relations between the two NATO allies have frayed with Paris repeatedly pointing the finger at Ankara over its role in Libya, while never publicly criticising Egypt or the UAE for their role.
“France is actively participating in this important operation in the context of increased foreign interference in the Libyan conflict, which we have condemned in the strongest terms,” Von der Muhll said.
The UN has previously cited the UAE, Egypt and Turkey for breaching the embargo.
Germany also stressed on Friday the need to uphold the Libyan arms embargo in the wake of el-Sisi’s latest statement.
Speaking at a regular news briefing in Berlin, Christofer Burger, a deputy spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, made clear that the Libyan arms embargo “applied to all sides”.
The German diplomat called for an “immediate end” to foreign military support for the conflict parties.
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