President hails "historic" meeting on Libya’s future
Paris, 29 May 2018
(Check against delivery)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for being here, and after the reading of the declaration that we’ve just attended and its approval by everyone, we’d like to have a press conference. I wanted to begin this press conference by expressing the French people’s solidarity with the Belgian people. During our meeting we heard what had happened in Belgium this morning, and the terrible attack which, it seems, is now being described as terrorist by the prosecutor’s office. It’s too early to comment, but I wanted to extend to our Belgian neighbours the French people’s heartfelt condolences and solidarity.
So today an important conference has been held which is the fruit of long-term work done over months and months by Prime Minister Sarraj, all the Libyan stakeholders, the international community and in particular the United Nations Representative, Ghassan Salamé. In July 2017, we held an initial meeting in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, where Prime Minister Sarraj was present with Marshal Haftar, in the presence of Representative Salamé, who was beginning his mission, and it enabled us to identify some initial key elements. Very significant work was then done on the ground, throughout those months; in September, after a summer spent working with all the stakeholders, Representative Ghassan Salamé set out his proposals and his road map, validated at the United Nations on the sidelines of the General Assembly, and a very large amount of work has been done in recent months.
The meeting held today is a historic meeting because it’s part of this process and it was prepared at length by all the stakeholders, and because it was supported by all those in the international community dealing with this situation. We all shared the same feeling of responsibility, urgency and commitment on the need to achieve a political solution swiftly in Libya. It’s the first time such a meeting has been held in this form with all the Libyan leaders, a key stage in Libya’s reconciliation: Mr Fayez al-Sarraj, Chairman of the Presidential Council, Mr Aguila Saleh, President of the House of Representatives, Mr Khalid al-Mishri, President of the High Council of State, and Mr Khaifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army, in the presence of several Libyan delegations representing sectors of Libyan society.
It’s the first time that all its leaders – some of whom don’t mutually recognize each other – have met in this format, agreed to work together and, as you’ve seen, together approved a joint declaration. It’s an essential, important step which makes possible what will come next. It’s also the first time that we’ve brought together, in their presence, under the United Nations umbrella, all the members of the international community dealing with the Libya situation: neighbouring countries, African countries, Middle Eastern countries, European countries, regional organizations and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
All the countries which in recent years, it has to be said, have sometimes tried to pull the strings of the Libya situation behind the curtains, pitting people against one another, taking advantage of divisions and sometimes destabilization, have also agreed to work together, signal their agreement and support this work being done by the Libyans to commit to this joint road map and this declaration; this too is a first, and it’s an essential step forward. (…)
This work is essential for Libya first and foremost; the Libyan people aspire to security, stability, better lives and the ability to express their sovereignty. (…)
Secondly, this subject is important for the whole region, as the mobilization of the African Union, the Arab League in particular and all the neighbouring states and many African states has shown; the situation in Libya today is problematic in terms of security, stability – which goes beyond it [Libya] and affects most of those countries, with serious consequences for the neighbouring countries, the whole of the Sahel, and potential destabilization in Africa and the Middle East too. And so the commitment by everyone to a sovereign, inclusive solution in Libya testifies to this importance for the region’s collective security and its stability. And this also affects us too because many European states have borne consequences of the crisis in Libya. I’m thinking of Italy, which has experienced a significant migration crisis over the past few months and years and which we’ve worked with in an exemplary way, and here I want to pay tribute to Italy’s commitment to the work done. (…) And all the European countries – and the European Union’s High Representative was also present with us – signalled their commitment to finding a joint solution.
So the discussions which took place this morning showed a determination to commit to specific points. First, a consensus on the need to unify the governmental, economic and security institutions in the long run to contribute to the full and complete affirmation of the Libyan state by ending, among other things, every kind of parallel institution by a gradual process which will be carried out and fully concluded following the electoral process, but above all by the decision – and we concluded it this very morning – to set ourselves a timetable and establish a procedure. (…)
The second element is the organization for 10 December 2018 of presidential and general elections and thus the commitment on the basis of this process to fully restore the Libyan people’s sovereignty and allow them to express it on that date. It’s a totally new element but I think it also meets the expectations of the Libyan people themselves. Special Representative Salamé has conducted several polls which showed the Libyans’ determination to commit to the process, to be able to vote and decide as quickly as possible. (…)
Before handing over to Mr Salamé and Prime Minister Sarraj, I really want to say here that the presence of 20 or so countries, regional organizations alongside the United Nations and Libyans today testifies to the international community’s unity and to the fact that we’ve got a unique commitment which we’re going to work on. We’ve all collectively pledged to support the efforts, to abide by the collective commitments – it’s an essential step in this respect. (…)./.