In Libya, stability and security across the Mediterranean are at stake. A political solution is indispensable. There are no military shortcuts, because if a party goes for the military option, the crisis could continue for a long time and Da’esh could re-emerge. The fight against terrorism must remain a strategic priority and the control of the Libyan borders is also very critical. Today, for instance, after the defeat of Da’esh in Iraq and in Syria, foreign fighters may return to Libya and, from there, to Europe.
Italy has saved and welcomed thousands of refugees and migrants by combining solidarity and security, but, especially at this moment, the focus on the Libyan borders has become a security imperative. It is a task that must be shared by the main actors of the international community.
Only two months have passed since Ghassan Salamé laid out his action plan. We appreciated the constructive approach of the discussions in Tunis. The image of the two delegations sitting at the negotiating table was a very good signal. We do not underestimate the difficulties of a complex process. We are aware that critical issues remain unresolved. Obstacles and challenges are real. However, we stand firmly behind Mr. Salamé’s efforts. Rushing to elections without progress on security and reconciliation may be counterproductive. Elections have to be kept on the political horizon, but voting without setting the rules could fuel tensions. For all these reasons, we call on Libyans to support the political process and to seize the opportunity offered by Mr. Salamé’s plan. The Libyans must build upon it with a spirit of openness and compromise.
Next month is the second anniversary of the Skhirat Political Agreement. This anniversary is not a deadline. Instead, it should be used to redouble efforts for political compromise and to promote reconciliation. The parties and the international community cannot allow a dangerous vacuum in the Libyan institutions. The Libyan Political Agreement remains the only framework for the transition. While the Libyans are negotiating, we need institutional interlocutors to define and implement programmes for the sake of the Libyan people. In order to improve security, Libya needs unified security forces under the control of the Presidency Council.
Libya cannot afford to fall victim to new armed conflicts. Italy has condemned the brutal bombings near Derna and the horrific killings discovered near Benghazi. We join the Libyan people, the Libyan institutions and the United Nations in calling for an impartial investigation on the latest tragic episodes. At the same time, full humanitarian access must be granted where basic needs and human rights are at risk. For example, we welcome the news that the World Health Organization managed to enter Derna to deliver medical aid.
Italy is very close to the civilian population. We have provided humanitarian and development assistance to fragile sectors of society, including women, children, refugees and migrants. The decline of migration flows is encouraging, but it cannot be at the expense of human rights. Italy has devoted many resources to the Libyan Coast Guard and local municipalities. We want to improve the appalling conditions of refugee and migrant centres. We are now launching new calls for projects of non-governmental organizations. Already, we are working together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
A crucial component of Libya’s stabilization is the relaunch of its economy. Libya would also benefit from a long-term vision — a kind of Libya 2030 Agenda — as a framework for action.
Allow me a final word on the international community’s presence in Libya. Italy was the first western country to reopen its embassy in Tripoli. We welcome the gradual increase of the United Nations presence and we encourage other countries to consider their return. Together, we shall rebuild those political, economic and cultural ties that can help our Libyan friends on the path to peace, security and stability.