(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat holds a press conference with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on May 4 in Tripoli.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat became the first head of state to make an official visit to Libya’s capital in a show of support to Prime Minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
“The fact that this is the first delegation to meet the Libyan unity government in Tripoli is a strong political signal,” Muscat said in a press conference after his meeting with Sarraj.
The meeting between the two leaders took place inside a naval base outside of Mitiga International Airport on Wednesday.
Muscat said that Malta was planning on becoming the first European Union member to open its embassy in Libya once the security situation in the country is stabilized.
“I know there is a huge demand for the return of the Maltese diplomatic mission in Libya but there are some prerequisites, namely the safety and security of the diplomatic staff and establishing a clear system of how things will proceed,” Muscat said.
Libyans across the country and the United Nations continue to wait on the House of Representatives (HoR) in the east to complete a vote of confidence for the unity government, which it was required to do so in December as outlined in the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
A number of diplomats have already visited the UN-backed unity government in a show of support since its arrival in the capital Tripoli on March 30.
“We’re here to show that Europe stands, Malta stands, with your government and fully supports it.” Muscat said to Sarraj during their joint press conference.
Malta is the closest European neighbour to Libya and is located about 300 kilometres from its coast.
The two leaders also discussed other issues during their meeting, including setting up technical commissions focusing on security, migration, oil, and trade.
Sarraj stated he was eager for Air Malta to begin operating flights to Libya, underlining the long-standing mutual relations between Libya and Malta.
“We’ve agreed on several bilateral agreements, we’re working on their implementation and the constitution of technical committees to work on these agreements,” Sarraj said.
Sarraj emphasized that his government did not require any foreign military intervention in its offensive against ISIS in Sirte, and only wants the technical support and assistance of the international community.
Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 uprising which toppled and killed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi left a power vacuum in the country, allowing various armed groups to take over regions and ISIS militants to set up a stronghold in Libya.