Libya - Remarks by Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, at his joint press conference with his German counterpart (La Celle-Saint-Cloud, April 5, 2016)


A question on Libya: You said several times that you would support and respond to a request for help from the head of the national unity government. What kind of help? And are you asking for greater involvement on the part of your European partners as well?

We see eye-to-eye with our European partners on the Libyan situation, which is extremely troubling.

We have defended the same position, i.e., the need to establish a national unity government that is recognized by the international community and based in the capital, Tripoli, where it can begin doing its work. Nothing is possible with Libya if this step isn’t taken.

I myself met with Mr. Sarraj in Tunis during an official visit to that country, and I saw someone who was solid and determined. And I must say I was pleased that he decided to go to Tripoli despite the many, many obstacles standing in his way, even though it meant putting his own safety at risk. He’s someone who is extremely brave.
Now he is there, and we absolutely must support him. Important decisions were taken, notably by the central bank and national oil company, which both support him, and those were also the conditions enabling him to act. That’s extremely important, because Libya’s assets will play a key role when it comes to taking a certain number of actions.

We were very pleased to note that Tunisia decided to reopen its embassy in Tripoli. The question of whether to reopen our embassies is obviously a pressing one. We want to see this situation resolved. And if the Libyan government asks us to help guarantee its security, obviously we’re ready to help. But Libya is first and foremost a matter for the Libyans themselves; it’s not a matter of deciding something on their behalf, especially in light of past experience, with air raids that cannot be an option this time around.

We recently held a meeting in Paris with our British and Italian friends about the Libyan situation. I think Frank is right: The situation in Libya is key to the security of the entire region. I was in Algiers recently and we spent a lot of time talking about the Libyan situation, and there too, we saw eye-to-eye. I mentioned Tunisia, but I think we’ve now entered a new phase. We must build on it, and in particular, we must continue our talks with our Egyptian friends – that’s very important.