Egyptian president uses UN address to call for peace in Libya

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. (AFP)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Egyptian president uses UN address to call for peace in Libya

  • In speech to 75th General Assembly, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi again warns that Egypt will intervene if forces in the country cross ‘red lines’

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi told the UN on Tuesday that the crisis in Libya continues to have repercussions for neighboring nations and is affecting international stability.

In a recorded speech to the organization’s 75th General Assembly, he said that Egypt remains determined to support the Libyan people in their efforts to rid their nation of terrorist groups and militias, and end interference by regional powers that have deployed foreign fighters in the country.

He reiterated that if previously stated “red lines” are crossed by forces aligned with the Government of National Accord in Tripoli advancing on Sirte and nearby Al-Jufra, Egypt will intervene in defense of its own national security and the safety of its people.

El-Sisi renewed his call for both sides in the conflict to return to the negotiating table to find a political solution that can bring the peace, security and stability the Libyan people deserve. He added that Egypt continues to support UN-led efforts to reach a political settlement based on the 2015 agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, and this year’s Berlin conference and Cairo Declaration. The declaration, announced on June 6, is a joint political initiative designed to end the conflict, restore order and establish a consensus government.

Ambassador Mohammed Badr El-Din, a former assistant minister of foreign affairs, said that El-Sisi’s speech covered all the main issues currently dominating Egyptian foreign policy and national security, and highlighted the importance of international cooperation to confront the problems and, in particular, hold accountable those who violate international law.

“(The president) talked about the issue of countries that support terrorism and facilitate the movement of terrorists to conflict areas, especially to Libya and Syria,” said El-Din.

He added that the situation in Libya is one of the greatest concerns for Egypt, and that some countries, led by Turkey, are threatening international peace and security by supporting terrorists and deploying Daesh elements in conflict zones in the region.

“Egypt has surpassed the parties that are allied with the terrorist forces,” said El-Din. “It is no secret from the world that there are elements of ISIS who were transferred from Syria to Libya, and thus President El-Sisi repeated and clarified this position,” he added, using another name for the terror group Daesh.

He added that El-Sisi in his speech also confirmed Egypt’s stance on the Palestinian issue and support for a just resolution, and highlighted the importance of reaching political solutions in Syria and Yemen that preserve their territorial integrity.

Salah Hasaballah, a spokesman for the House of Representatives, noted that El-Sisi had expressed his regret that the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the support provided to terrorists by a handful of countries, through the provision of funds and weapons, by offering safe havens and media and political platforms, and even transporting terrorist fighters to conflict zones, especially Libya and Syria.

He also called on the international community to embrace El-Sisi’s vision for a solution to the Palestinian issue, and commit to working to achieve peace and establish a Palestinian homeland.


Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 October 2020

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.

HIGHLIGHT

Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.