France playing significant part in enforcing Libya arms embargo

Libya – Reply by the Ministry for the Armed Forces to a written question in the Senate

Paris, 2 September 2021

Monitoring the embargo on arms deliveries to Libya was the focus of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 1970 and 2292. Their implementation is collectively guaranteed within the European Union (EU), and France plays a significant part in this. On 1 April 2020, given the deteriorating situation in Libya and the risks of the conflict spreading, the EU launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, whose mandate is focused on implementing the embargo on arms to Libya voted on by the UNSC.

Operation IRINI also includes three other dimensions: preventing illegal oil exports, combating people-trafficking and training the Libyan coastguard. In terms of air capabilities, the EU countries’ contributions are satisfactory. France is providing support in the shape of two Falcon 50 flights per month. In the naval field, Europe’s contributions are still more modest. Alongside the French capabilities, Greece and Italy are committing a unit on an ongoing basis. France is deploying French navy capital ships (frigates and attack submarines) for some 100 days at sea per year. It has a fleet-ready escort capable of swiftly strengthening the capability if need be.

The operation currently occupies second place in the French navy’s operational contract for the Mediterranean Basin and is taking on increasing weight. The serious incident that occurred in the spring of 2020 between two members of the [NATO] Alliance, France and Turkey, was discussed at the highest level.

At the meeting of Alliance defence ministers on 17 and 18 June 2020, we set out France’s concerns following a Turkish frigate’s unacceptable conduct towards a French frigate on 10 June.

Subsequently, we ensured a reminder was issued within the Alliance of certain important principles such as the need to comply with the United Nations embargo on Libya, the appropriate use of NATO’s maritime signals, proper communication between allies at sea, and the goal of smooth coordination between the EU’s Operation IRINI and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian./.

Published on 10/09/2021

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