By Mucahit Aydemir and Sarp Ozer
TRIPOLI (AA) – Turkey will always help Libya maintain its integrity, security, and ensure the prosperity of its people, the Turkish defense minister said on Tuesday.
Hulusi Akar, who arrived in Libya on Monday along with Turkish military chief Gen. Yasar Guler, spoke to reporters about the specifics of his visit.
“We are here upon the invitation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) that was recognized by the United Nations (UN). We will continue standing with our Libyan brothers and sisters in the future, with whom we share a common history and culture of 500 years,” he said.
“We will do everything that is needed in order for Libya to maintain its integrity, security and the prosperity of its people.”
Akar met Libyan premier Fayez al-Sarraj, Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, and Khalid al-Mishri, chair of Libya’s High Council of State during the visit.
He also held a trilateral meeting with Sarraj and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah.
Akar said Turkey is providing Libya training support as part of the memorandum of understanding signed between the two nations on security and military cooperation.
“We also conduct humanitarian aid work here and provide every kind of support for hospitals. Our bomb squads are working against those who have planted explosives everywhere. We are doing everything we can to protect civilians from harm,” he said.
– ‘Everyone should know about Tarhuna mass graves’
Warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces in eastern Libya are committing serious rights violations, said the Turkish defense minister.
“We are on the right side. We support the UN-recognized government and Libya’s territorial and political integrity. We care about the welfare of its people. We do everything in our power to maintain the cease-fire,” said Akar.
“Everyone should see the mass graves in Tarhuna and know what really happened there. We now know who supported [Haftar’s] illegal forces against the GNA. We hope that peace will prevail here soon and our brothers and sisters in Libya will live in security.”
– Greece, Egypt deal 'null and void'
Commenting on the Eastern Mediterranean situation, Akar said Turkey is working completely in line with international law in order to protect its own rights and interests, and those of its brothers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
"What we do in the Eastern Mediterranean is completely transparent. We respect our neighbors’ rights and interests; we always say that we are on the side of being good neighbors. We will continue doing everything we can to secure the result of our work in the near future,” the minister said.
He reiterated that the exclusive economic zone agreement between Greece and Egypt was completely “null and void.”
“This agreement is not just void, it also puts the Egyptian and Greek people at a disadvantage. We invite everyone to be reasonable about this; everyone has to see that a fait accompli will not be of any benefit to anyone,” said the minister.
Akar also reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to “decidedly” continue its operations in the region.