10 June – 16 June: Russia and Turkey postpone Libya talks

Jun 18, 2020 | International actors

On 14 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shogu were slated to travel to Istanbul for a meeting on Libya with their Turkish counterparts. However, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a phone call on that day, deciding to delay discussions. In a press conference on 15 June, Cavusoglu indicated that delay was not connected to any friction over “core principles”. However, on the same day, a Turkish official reportedly said that the postponing of Russia-Turkey talks was due the assault by the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) coalition to capture Sirte from Russian-backed Libyan National Army (LNA).

During a phone call with Egyptian President Abdul Fateh al-Sisi on 10 June, US President Donald Trump praised the former’s efforts to “promote political reconciliation and de-escalation in the Libyan conflict,” following the announcement of the so-called Cairo initiative on 6 June.

On 10 June, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said that the GNA and LNA delegations were “fully engaged” in the third round of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) 5+5 talks and that “productive” talks had been had. UNSMIL explained that virtual talks were held with the LNA delegation on 3 June and with the GNA delegation on 9 June, focusing on the latest developments on the ground as well as comments on the draft ceasefire agreement produced by UNSMIL on 23 February.

On 10 June, a Greek helicopter, linked by the Greek frigate Spetsai and operating under the aegis of the European Union’s Operation Irini, moved to intercept a Turkish cargo ship bound for Libya. This move prompted a Turkish naval vessel to come to the Cirkin’s defence. Soon after, the Greek helicopter and ship reportedly withdrew, because Irini doesn’t have authorisation to intervene with vessels accompanied by ships belonging to third countries. On 12 June, the Turkish Ministry of Defence announced that its Navy and air force conducted an 8-hour long coordinated Open Sea Training exercise off the Libyan coast, commanded by military headquarters in Turkey.