Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

Speech by HR/VP at the High-Level Event on Libya under the UN auspices

New York, 20/09/2017 - 22:16, UNIQUE ID: 170920_24
HR/VP speeches

Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the High-Level Event on Libya under the UN auspices

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Obrigada, António [Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations].


Mr Prime Minister [and Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj], Presidence, Special Representative [and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan] Salamé,


As you know for the European Union, Libya is a neighbour and, as such, we attach the greatest importance to the destiny of the people of Libya who deserve a solution to the crisis. Libya is a rich country, the Libyans are resourceful people and yet for years they have suffered from conflict, terrorism, economic crisis, lack of governance and constant insecurity. A situation that - by the way and that is not a minor element in our consideration - allows for thousands of migrants – African brothers and sisters - to be stuck in detention centres or in the hands of criminal organisations in terrible conditions.

Still, the only possible solution to the current situation – we know that very well - is political and must come from the Libyans themselves. This is why we also appreciate the approach that Special Representative Salamé has given of focusing on the situation inside Libya and talking with the Libyans first and foremost.

On our side, as the international community, as Europeans, we have a duty to make every effort to accompany such a process, always in the framework and under the lead provided by the United Nations. There are three broad areas we believe we must focus on:  

First, the political framework. The key pieces of this very difficult puzzle are very clear: a reform of the Libyan Political Agreement, a new constitution and new elections. It will be essential to get the sequencing right. And we believe that we can count on the wisdom of Special Representative Salamé to guide this sequencing. For the international community it will be a matter to support him in full unity. We will have tomorrow morning an important meeting of the Quartet for Libya that I believe will be helpful to coordinate steps and make sure that Europeans, Arabs, Africans, in the framework of the United Nations, all push in the same direction. But let's be clear: we strongly believe the main responsibility is with the Libyans who have to decide on their future. The European Union will continue to provide its full support on all levels in the political and diplomatic sphere, including through the Quartet, and should the Libyans request it in the future, also with accompanying and assisting in the electoral process.

Second element: the economic recovery. President [of France, Emmanuel] Macron, Prime Minister [of Italy, Paolo] Gentiloni mentioned that. It is not by chance that two European Heads of State and Government mention this issue. For us, economic and social action inside Libya is crucial. It is urgent to improve the living conditions of the Libyans, but also the credibility of the new Libyan institutions at all levels. Libya needs to move out of the war economy and reap the economic benefits of peace. And we can and must replace the irregular economy – including the smuggling business and a criminal networks that are making money out of the desperation of the people – with new and better economic opportunities. The European Union is the largest trade partner of Libya by far. We are going to continue to put all our expertise to the service of the Libyan people for Libya’s recovery, working together with Libyans and international partners to draft a new macroeconomic plan for the country.

Third and last point I would like to make: the humanitarian action. Not only we are the main economic partner for Libya, we are also the main humanitarian donor. And improving humanitarian conditions in the country continues to be a top priority. This is about Libyan citizens, but as I mentioned this is also about thousands of African men and women, brothers and sisters, who are currently inside the country in terrible conditions. The living conditions inside detention centres are completely unacceptable and we believe these centres should be closed. To address this dramatic situation, we have significantly strengthened our cooperation in this last year with the IOM and UNHCR to help them having access to the centres and provide much-needed help. At the same time, we are working to create sustainable alternatives, new opportunities for migrants to go back to their homes and for the refugees to reach safe places, including in Europe; new economic opportunities in the countries of origin, so that migrants can start a new life within their own communities; and new economic opportunities for those Libyan communities that currently rely on the smuggling business. We know the reality on the ground, we know what is needed to try and turn it around.

Last point, I think probably the most important one in this meeting: our unity, our support to your work. In everything we do, the European Union is working and will continue to work with the United Nations. We strongly believe in multilateralism, we strongly invest in the UN system. Be it on the humanitarian action, on the economic track, or on diplomacy, we want to work together with our international partners under a strong UN leadership, within the Quartet for Libya for sure. Also because if we are asking the Libyans to unite and overcome their own divisions, the minimum we can do to help them doing this is to unite ourselves: Africans, Europeans, Arabs under the wise leadership of the United Nations.

So, dear friends, you can count on the European Union to fully support your work and our Libyan brothers and sisters can rely in our constant support in all different fields.

Thank you.


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