"Russia is ready to facilitate the implementation of agreements in every possible way," Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov tells Mohamed Taher Siala, Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of National Accord, GNA. "From the very beginning of the Libyan crisis, we have been maintaining contacts with all the political sides," Lavrov added.
The two government officials are meeting today to try to advance a solution to the intra-Libyan government split that currently finds itself with three governments vying for political power.
Lavrov said, “We expect that as the situation stabilizes and threats to the Libyan statehood and the security of the Libyan citizens are eliminated, we will be able to boost bilateral cooperation with a united, independent and free Libya." The minister concluded that Russia’s "principled position is that the Libyan people themselves must decide the fate of the country."
Russia hopes that with the Skhirat agreement updated last October, together with the U.N. Plan of Action, that Libyan political factions can begin to adhere to a single government. Moscow believes Libya must resolve this matter to move forward other pressing domestic issues, such as rehabilitating the Libyan economy and dealing with a humanitarian crisis, including human enslavement and trafficking, drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
The 2015, U.N.-crafted Skhirat agreement called for the creation of a nine-member presidential council and a bicameral legislature.
Yet, the legislature did not recognize the agreement and Libya remains divided with an internationally recognized, GNA government based in Libya’s capital of Tripoli and a de facto Tobruk and al-Bayda-based faction that controls the House of Representatives. In March of 2016 a self-declared Government of National Salvation headed by Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell formed with bases in Tobruk and the Tripoli.
The 2017 updated agreement calls for the creation of an interim government and legislative and presidential elections, among other provisions.
Lavrov says Russia seeks to involve all significant parties in the peace dialogue.
Also on the Libya-Russia agenda is the strengthening of economic and trade relations. Russian companies would like to see the Libyan government stabilize to re-enter into the country’s energy, industrial and transportation markets.
Libya has been rocked by warring factions and political and social instability since 2011 when French, British and NATO forces began a 7-month airstrike campaign essentially toppling the Muammar Gaddafi government, which ended when internal opposition forces killed the Libyan leader.