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I am very happy to be in Tripoli again, almost exactly one year after my previous visit. We have had a very useful discussion with Foreign Minister [Najla El] Mangoush and this afternoon I will also have the pleasure to meet the President of the Presidential Council Mohammed Mnefi and Vice-Presidents Moussa al Kouni and Abdallah Hussein al Lafi.
I hope to have a possibility of having a phone call with Prime Minister [Abdul Hamid] Dbeiba - I understand perfectly that he had to go to Tobruk to attend to a parliamentarian request.
I think I will also have the possibility to talk with the United Nations Special Envoy Ján Kubiš.
I am glad to say that Libya has achieved much progress in the past year: there is a ceasefire in place, unified political institutions and a road map to elections on 24 December. When we met in Berlin in June, the Libyan government committed to implement these two agreements and we, the representatives of the international community, committed to support it.
Now it is time to implement and consolidate this progress. Today, we are discussing with the Libyan authorities how the European Union can support Libya in these efforts in the coming months.
Time is flying. There are only 105 days to 24 December. This is the date that Libyans in the Political Dialogue Forum chose for holding presidential and parliamentary elections, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Libyan independence. I think that there is no time to lose to approve the necessary legislation, go to the parliament, and start the necessary preparations. The European Union has already given technical support to the High National Election Commission and we are ready to do more.
Renewing the legitimacy of the Libyan institutions, reaffirming Libyan sovereignty and stabilising the country for all its people are goals that we believe must go hand in hand.
Libyans from the 5+5 Joint Military Committee agreed to cease hostilities last 23 October. They asked all foreign forces to withdraw from the country. They agreed to disband armed groups and create reunified military institutions.
Today, I am reiterating to my Libyan interlocutors that the European Union supports these objectives and stands ready to help the Libyan government in the reform of the security sector, including through our European Union Border Assistance Mission already present in Tripoli, its director [Natalina Cea] has been present in our meeting. To give concrete examples, we are already helping to build barracks in which officers from all parts of Libya will live together. We are also already supporting the Joint Police Force on the coastal road that connects the east and west of the country, and we are ready to do more.
I also discussed with our Libyan partners ways to increase cooperation with our naval Operation Irini, which acts under a United Nations Security Council mandate. Through this operation, the European Union is the only presence monitoring the respect of the arms embargo and helps to fight illicit exports of oil from Libya.
Looking at the longer term, the EU would like to offer Libya the large expertise we developed supporting many partners rebuilding their State structures during their transitions. We are ready to put in place an extensive capacity-building programme to help Libya strengthen its institutions, at central and local level if requested.
The EU will also be ready when conditions allow, to start negotiations leading to an association agreement so that Libya can benefit from the same programmes and support as other countries of the Southern Mediterranean in our Neighbourhood policy.
These negotiations were stopped almost ten years ago when the revolution came and as soon as conditions allow we will be ready to start again. I also support strongly the stabilisation conference that the Libyan government is trying to put in place under your initiative. And I praise you a lot for this. The Libyans have to have the ownership of their own process related to create security and stability of their country. We will be very much happy to participate in it and provide our support. Because we are deeply attached to the Libyan sovereignty and independence. And sovereignty and independence mean that you have to be master of your future - marking the roadmap and doing all efforts necessary in order to gain success in this process. As Libya’s neighbour, the EU hopes to become its partner for peace and stabilization in the interest of all the Libyans. Once again, [Foreign] Minister [Najla El Mangoush], I wish you all success.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-210448