27 May – 2 June: US commends Malta for seizure of counterfeit Libyan currency

Jun 3, 2020 | International actors

On 29 May, the US State Department commended the Government of Malta’s announcement on 26 May of its seizure of $1.1 billion of counterfeit Libyan currency printed by Joint Stock Company Goznak—a Russian state-owned company—which the State Department noted had been “ordered by an illegitimate parallel entity”, in reference to the eastern-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL). It stressed that the Tripoli-based CBL is the only legitimate central bank and that the influx of counterfeit, Russian-printed Libyan currency in recent years has exacerbated Libya’s economic challenges.

On 30 May, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement noting that a contract for the printing of Libyan dinars was signed in 2015 between Goznak and the governor of the CBL and approved by the House of Representatives (HoR), with the bank notes being sent to the CBL branch in Tubruq. It said, “there are two central banks in Libya because there are two centres of political power” and that therefore “it is not the Libyan dinars but the American statements that are false.”

On 1 June, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in which they discussed the situation in Syria and Libya. Lavrov reportedly urged Guterres to appoint a new UN envoy to Libya, ahead of potentially further deteriorating conditions in the country.

On 29 May, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander, Stephen Townsend, made a phone call to the Tunisian Minister of Defence, Imed Hazgui, to discuss training and exercise opportunities, noting the need to “ensure broader regional security” with the ongoing violence in Libya.

On 30 May, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte held a phone call with the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Serraj, to discuss the military and health situation in Libya. Followingly, Conte spoke to the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, via a phone call to discuss UN mediation efforts and the implementation of the agreements made at the Berlin Conference. The statement claimed Haftar was interested in Conte’s desire for a return to political dialogue.

On 1 June, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held a phone call with Serraj, calling for the end of fighting and the need to resume the Berlin Conference outcomes. Le Drain also reiterated the need to resume the UN-mediated Joint Military Commission (JMC) 5+5 meetings in order to agree a ceasefire. On 27 May, Le Drian told a French Senate hearing that, “We are facing “Syrianisation” of Libya.”