What to expect of the Libya summit in Berlin?

Representatives of the conflicting parties, the US, Russia and Turkey are to meet in Berlin on Sunday to discuss a solution to the Libya crisis after the signing of a ceasefire agreement prepared by Moscow and Ankara failed on Monday. Europe's press is divided over the likelihood of a breakthrough.

Open/close all quotes
La Repubblica (IT) /

Big plans for a small conference

Europe knows what will help Libya, La Repubblica writes:

“A permanent ceasefire, a civilian mission to ensure compliance, followed by the deployment of military personnel to Libya to stop the influx of war material, disarm the militias and promote the formation of a government of national unity. ... With these options on the table, the phone calls between the continent's chancelleries are making clear the direction in which European leaders are heading. They want to convince the participants in Berlin to approve the civilian mission immediately so as to stabilise the ceasefire and avoid the risk of a surprise attack by General Haftar on Tripoli. ... There's no saying Berlin will achieve this, but the governments of the EU member states are counting on it being able to.”

Star (TR) /

Haftar the weakest leader at the table

For the pro-government Star, militia leader Haftar is in a bind of his own making:

“General Haftar diplomatically weakened his own position when he left the negotiating table. Since the Al-Sarraj government signed the agreement, Haftar has become a 'spoilsport'. And this has enraged Moscow. Given who is lined up on the other side, he can't oppose the ceasefire either. He must wait for the outcome of the Berlin summit before making another move. This is not the first time he has created the circumstances for a military operation against himself, if the fighting resumes. ... In this respect the summit in Berlin is significant. Haftar will either agree to a political solution or lose everything he has gained so far.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Merkel's fear of a repeat of 2015

The host's biggest concern is that a war in Libya could induce even more people to try to make their way to Europe, writes Naftemporiki:

“In the case of Syria Germany looked on from afar, and in 2015, when thousands of refugees came knocking on Germany's door, it was already too late. Merkel's political wounds are still fresh. EU cooperation with the Libyan coast guard is not a cut and dry solution. Just recall the dramatic revelations about slavery and the horrific violence that various armed groups in Libya have inflicted on Africans seeking passage to Europe. And the thousands of people held in camps run by armed Libyan groups that the EU is subsiding in a bid to control migrant flows.”

T24 (TR) /

Ankara acting without thinking

Turkish foreign policy is impulsive and haphazard, comments T24:

“There's a saying that goes 'Shoot first, aim later'. It's a pretty good description of Turkish policy in Syria and Libya. Ankara's attitude is always rash and harsh without taking time to weigh up precisely what its goal is and how it intends to achieve it. And each time it fails to achieve its goal it is forced to adopt a new stance. As a result, its foreign policy ricochets from one extreme to the other.”

Ethnos (GR) /

Greece being treated like a protectorate

The Americans can't represent Greece at the summit, writes Ethnos, criticising Berlin for not sending an invitation to Athens:

“Germany can do as it please. What matters is what we should do if we don't want to be treated like a protectorate. It's all very well to strengthen our relations with the US, but the US represents no one but itself. Yes, the summit could end in a fiasco, but the value of participating in an international conference is that it has far-reaching consequences that are not limited to the immediate outcome.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

A battle over oil, migrants and morals

Too many interests collide in Libya, analyses Radio Kommersant FM:

“If [militia leader] Haftar wins, Russia will undoubtedly consolidate its position in Libya. The stakes there are oil and gas and, very importantly, control of migration flows - which is a decisive argument vis-à-vis the European partners. And there is also the factor of a moral victory over the Western liberals: 'You have crushed Libya, we are rebuilding it'. Meaning: 'You are to blame for the current situation'. ... But then Erdoğan [who supports the UN-recognised Prime Minister al-Sarraj] takes to the stage and declares Libya a strategic sphere of interest. ... This is how the situation will eventually escalate, and because there are too many actors who want to divide Libya up among themselves, it will be extremely difficult to reach an agreement.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

New winners and losers

Erdoğan's advance in Libya has apparently served as a wake-up call, Yetkin Report comments:

“Now that Libya's Eastern and Western neighbours, Egypt and Algeria, have also declared their support for Turkey and Russia's call made on January 8 for a ceasefire in Libya from January 12, the prospect of war in the Mediterranean has been replaced by the prospect of the peace talks to be held in Germany. It looks like Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's risky challenge to send troops to Libya has shook things up and had considerable impact on a possible solution: the winners and the losers in the Libya issue are being re-defined.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Haftar will hardly make compromises

With General Haftar as the key figure hopes for a ceasefire have diminished, Der Standard believes:

“Recent military gains may make it difficult for Haftar, who wanted to bring all of Libya under his control, to accept the ceasefire. The ceasefire would probably result in a return to old positions, ideally those before the offensive began in April. There is a certain amount of Russian pressure on Haftar, otherwise Moscow would not have acted as a mediator between Haftar and Al-Sarraj. However whether the Russians would withdraw support from Haftar if he did not show any willingness to compromise remains an open question. ... Even if Haftar and Al-Sarraj commit to a ceasefire and negotiations, the question is still whether all the military forces gathered under their banner will be prepared to go along with this.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

No peace missions, please

Italy has called for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission. A dangerous idea, geopolitics expert Lucio Caracciolo geopolitics expert writes in La Repubblica:

“Many things are needed to maintain peace, but one thing in particular: peace. ... But the reality of the situation is the opposite. There is no Libya, there is no peace. The UN is an outdated free zone which the powers agree to use whenever they don't want to get directly involved. Our prime minister rightly says that 'we will not send a single one of our boys unless the conditions for security and a clear political path are fulfilled'. The logical conclusion is that we won't send anyone. But this is not a logical matter. There is a considerable risk that all the talking will end in us doing exactly what we say we don't want to do.”

France Inter (FR) /

A new era without rules

The international community is powerless, columnist Pierre Haski writes on the website of broadcaster France Inter:

“At the end of December Ghassan Salamé, UN Special Envoy for Libya, lamented that the countries that voted for the arms embargo against Libya are violating their own resolutions, and admitted that the credibility of the UN was at stake. ... This is obvious. And the fact that Russia and Turkey are playing an increasingly important role in this conflict, both as agents in the war and as peacemakers, shows that a new era has begun. The Americans are reluctant and the Europeans have missed the boat, even if they're trying to make up for the delay by organising negotiations in Berlin next Sunday. Libya shows us what tomorrow's world will look like, a world with no rules and no referees.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Europe finally taking action

The ceasefire is a foretaste of the strategy of division that Russia and Turkey have adopted in Libya, Avvenire points out:

“That makes the jolt into action Europe has given itself all the more important. After a series of meetings between EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and the governments of France, Germany and the UK, it has been agreed that Italy will be charged with mediating. A mission that prompted General Haftar to visit Prime Minister Conte in Rome on Wednesday and Libyan Prime Minister al-Sarraj to go to Brussels for talks. A welcome step, then. Because Libya needs Europe, its connections and its investments. And because several countries have put their ambitions on hold in the name of a higher goal.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Merkel will support ceasefire

There is a good chance that Germany will support the call for a ceasefire, Habertürk believes:

“In all probability Chancellor Merkel, who will visit Russia on 11 January and Turkey on 24 January, will follow the call of the two countries. Because Germany, which launched the idea of a Berlin conference to guarantee a ceasefire in Libya and find a political solution, will not want the path it has followed so far to be in vain. If the ceasefire is successful, not many soldiers from Turkey will go to Libya either. And this is exactly what Merkel was aiming for.”