Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and reply to a media question at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala of Libya’s Government of National Accord, Moscow, December 12, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
My colleague, Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala of Libya’s Government of National Accord, and I have had very substantive talks. We held an in-depth discussion on the situation in Libya and prospects for a settlement there, as well as on some aspects of bilateral relations.
We pointed out the importance of consolidating international efforts to facilitate the development of conditions for an early settlement of the protracted crisis in Libya through direct talks between the relevant Libyan groups.
We agree that any mediation is welcome if these efforts are coordinated by the UN, which has appointed Ghassan Salamé as the new UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya. Mr Salamé has submitted an Action Plan for Libya, a kind of a roadmap to a settlement, which the UN Security Council has supported.
In this context, we are glad that the main Libyan players – the representatives of Tripoli and Tobruk – have, at the initiative of Mr Salamé, begun an intensive and concrete dialogue on the modification of the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, which provides the basis for a lasting settlement. The next round of these consultations will be held next week.
We welcome the results that have been achieved within the framework of the intra-Libyan dialogue. We will contribute to the settlement of all issues through talks between Tobruk and Tripoli, with which we are in contact on a regular basis.
We are convinced that the Libyans will be able to attain the main goal by implementing the plan that has been proposed by the UN within the framework of inclusive talks, the goal of restoring the unity of the country with due regard for the interests of all political forces, tribes and regional groups and ensuring Libya’s subsequent sustainable development.
We firmly believe that the implementation of the Skhirat agreement, after its modification, on which the parties to the intra-Libyan talks are working, will help fulfil other immediate tasks on the Libyan agenda, such as the restoration of order in the sphere of security, economic and humanitarian rehabilitation, as well as the settlement of the problem of illegal migration, which has seriously deteriorated recently.
We held an in-depth discussion of the possibility of resuming full-scale trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Libya. We are quite optimistic on this score. Many Russian companies that used to work in Libya are willing to resume their operations there and to join energy and industrial and transport infrastructure projects. We have agreed to maintain contacts on the resumption of bilateral trade and economic ties. A delegation of Libyan business leaders visited Russia in October, and there are plans for a Russian business mission to Libya early next year. Our Libyan colleagues have pledged to do their utmost to protect the security of Russian companies that return to Libya.
The Foreign Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord, Mr Mohamed Siala, has promised to accelerate the settlement of a humanitarian issue related to the detainment of a Russian tanker by the Libyan coast guard. All crew members, with the exception of the first officer and the captain, have returned to Russia. We hope this problem will be settled in the near future.
Russia will do everything in its power to normalise the situation in and around Libya in connection with the international aspects of the restoration of Libya’s rights. I hope we will soon have grounds for this, following the ongoing talks between the Libyan parties.
I am grateful to Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala of Libya’s Government of National Accord for these constructive talks, which will certainly promote the progressive development of Russian-Libyan ties.
Question: It has been reported that Russia plans to organise something like a Libyan national dialogue conference. If this is so, who would take part in this? Does this contradict the existing formats within the framework of the Skhirat agreement?
Sergey Lavrov: Regarding a Libyan national dialogue conference, I have never heard of it. I only know that many intermediaries are working with different Libyan parties. Some countries can influence the territories that are not controlled by the two main participants of the intra-Libyan talks – Tripoli and Tobruk. Tribes are very influential in Libyan society, especially in the southern and western regions, for historical reasons. When – I am sure that it is not if, but when – the situation reaches the stage of implementation of the amended Skhirat agreement and the Action Plan proposed by the Special Representative for Libya, we will need to involve Libyan society in this process. No matter whether this process takes the form of a national dialogue or any other form, the results of the ongoing UN-sponsored talks must be accepted throughout Libyan society as a whole. This is a given. No wonder that these talks include discussions of possible legislative, constitutional and institutional reforms and general elections. The entire Libyan people and Libyan society will need to support the agreements that are being worked out with our support.