For months, Germany has been trying to find a political solution for the ongoing conflict in Libya. On Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel had finally invited leaders to a summit that will take place this Sunday in Berlin.
Since September, Germany has been hosting a United Nations consultation process on Libya. Now, Merkel is cautiously confident that the time has arrived to attempt a decision at the highest political level, an international agreement on how to deal with the conflict. The summit this Sunday should thus aim to ensure a commitment from all sides to adhere to the arms embargo and open the way for a steady political solution.
The German government realizes the opportunity Merkel’s decision provides. Nonetheless, one should not expect Merkel and the other parties present to conduct miracles. The summit was “important,” but only the “beginning” of a political process, a government spokeswoman stated on Wednesday. Naturally, “the solution to all Libyan problems cannot be solved on this one day,” she continued. Nonetheless, the summit has the chance to be a building block on the way to an amicable solution for the country that has torn apart by its reprehensible civil war.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Maas was optimistic that an agreement to pacify the country could be signed on Sunday. “We are now at a point where we believe that we can reach such an agreement with everyone involved at such a conference,” said Maas. “That is the prerequisite for the fact that there is no military solution in Libya, but a political one.”
However, it is not only Germany that is pushing the initiative. The EU is also heavily invested in the summit and has high aspirations, also seeking to advance the political process in general but to install a lasting and reliable ceasefire agreement between the relevant actors. Moreover, EU Foreign Minister Borrell seeks to present measures on how a potential agreement could be monitored in order to add accountability. The latter primarily affects an armistice and the implementation of an arms embargo.
Merkel, however, is cognizant that mainly foreign actors in Libya are responsible for stopping any potential progress and a final peace agreement, stating that “as long as arms keep coming in from outside, the military battles will not come to rest.” As a warning example of what could happen if lasting peace was not facilitated, Merkel referred to Syria, where millions either died or fled the country due to lack of any agreement and a standstill of progress.
Merkel will be accompanied by EU Council President Charles Michel as well as EU Commission President von der Leyen. Also participating are the United States and China. Moreover, Great Britain, France, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the Republic of the Congo, Italy, Egypt, and Algeria are also expected in Berlin in coordination with the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Whether Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his opponent in the civil war, General Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of the oil-rich North African country with his Libyan National Army, are also attending, is not guaranteed at this stage, however.
Nonetheless, Moscow, another actor in the crisis and a participant on Sunday, indicated that both conflicting parties would indeed come to Berlin. Only then can it be ensured that they also accept all decisions agreed at the meeting, Foreign Minister Lavrov said on Wednesday.
In the Libya crisis, efforts are currently underway at various political levels to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict. A temporary ceasefire has been in force since the weekend. The civil war has raged in the North African country since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.
Both sides possess powerful support. Khalifa Haftar is being supported by Russia and France, among others. The government in Tripoli, on the other hand, is supported by Turkey, Italy, and Qatar.