I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.
At the onset, I wish to thank Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for having organised today’s timely meeting.
In the past months, significant progress has been achieved in Libya thanks to a combination of strong UN mediation efforts, international support through the Berlin Process, and indeed renewed Libyan determination.
The interim Government of National Unity, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dbeiba, has been making efforts to steer the country towards a smooth transition. But many challenges remain, and the unity of the international community is more than ever paramount to consolidate progress and thereby continue creating the conditions for a viable return to stability.
The clear priorities are the preparations for national elections on 24 December 2021 and the adoption, to this effect, of the required legal basis and constitutional framework and of a unified budget; and progress on the implementation of the Ceasefire, including via the swift and full deployment of the ceasefire monitoring mechanism.
The withdrawal of all foreign forces and fighters and mercenaries is paramount.
The European Union has a strong interest in a stable, secure, united and prosperous Libya. The EU fully respects Libyan leadership and ownership and seeks to assist the country and the Libyan people to return to peace and in the transition to democracy without foreign interference. This is why we have supported the UN efforts and actively contributed to the Berlin process.
To help international efforts in bringing back peace and security, we set up last year Operation IRINI, to help implement the arms embargo. And with EUBAM Libya we support Libyan border management, law enforcement and criminal justice sectors.
We stand ready to do more to help Libya and further support the UN-led and Libyan-owned peace process if so requested.
As I said before, the withdrawal of all foreign forces and fighters and mercenaries from Libya is a clear priority, and it is key for the stability of the country.
At the same time, the departure of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya must not be allowed to have a negative impact on the Sahel region, notably in terms of stability and security. In this respect, I wish to express here today the full solidarity of the European Union and its Member States with the countries of the Sahel.
We need a greater focus on the issue of the impact of the departure of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya on the Sahel region: this is a key issue, which must be addressed jointly by the international community. Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of all militias and armed groups, including foreign fighters, but also border control, high-quality intelligence and regional cooperation are all key elements in this respect. We support the role that the platform between Libya, Niger, Chad and Sudan could play in this regard.
Let us remember that mercenaries are an even bigger threat when they have access to weapons: hence the importance to continue ensuring the full respect by all parties of the Libya arms embargo. The EU will continue to do its part with Operation Irini, and we welcome the unanimous renewal of UNSCR 2292 in this regard.
The EU remains fully committed to the Sahel, ever more so as its stability is under serious threat, as we have recently seen in Chad, as well as with the coup d’état in Mali, which the EU has condemned. We closely follow developments in Mali and Chad: the announced transitions need to be inclusive, peaceful and with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and limited in time, allowing for the organisation of inclusive elections.
The EU reaffirmed its political ambitions in the Sahel with the adoption, last April, of a revised Sahel Strategy, which focuses on good governance and respect for human rights. The revised Sahel Strategy reaffirms the importance of the solid partnership between the EU and the Sahel. With this ambitious strategy, that will be the key reference for the new EU Special Representative for the Sahel starting his mandate in the next few weeks, the EU intends to intensify its political efforts, based on the principle of mutual accountability.
As part of its integrated approach (policy, security / defence, development, humanitarian aid) the EU is committed to the Sahel via all its instruments.
The EU is the largest contributor to humanitarian and development aid, and a major security actor, with three missions in Mali and Niger providing training, assistance and advice to security forces.
The overall EU aid to the 5 Sahel countries over the 2014-2020 period amounts to 4.7 billion euros, more than 2 billion in the form of budget support (8.5 billion aid in total when including EU Member States) and 1.16 billion euros of humanitarian aid.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I wish to reaffirm the strong commitment of the European Union and its Member States to ensure a stable, secure, united and prosperous Libya; and the solid partnership between the EU and the Sahel.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.