Libya has the historic opportunity to restore its unity
Libya - Remarks to the press by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 6 June 2016
Obviously the Security Council meeting that we will have in a few minutes is very important. And we will listen to Martin Kobler and his briefing at a very important time in Libya’s history. We indeed believe that Libya has now the historic opportunity to restore its unity. This is the central challenge of the coming weeks and it is, in our views, the number 1, number 2 and number 3 priorities.
Unity, if you think about, is the key to Libya’s security and stability. Indeed it is the chaos in Libya that allows Daesh to prosper and only the unity of Libyan forces under the authority of Farraj can prevent Daesh from taking root in Libya and ultimately eradicate it there. In Libya more than in any other place I would say, unity means strength — l’union fait la force — especially in the fight against terrorism.
Now against this backdrop the priority of the Security Council is therefore to use all the tools at its disposal so that the forces of unity and integration can prevail over the forces of disintegration and chaos. And what can the Security Council do in this respect?
Fully supporting M. Sarraj’s government of national accord in its effort to strengthen its authority throughout Libya and to serve all Libyans, so that each and every Libyan recognizes him or herself in the action of the government.
Number 2 unifying, as I said the Libyan forces, which means concretely reaching a political-military compromise on the organization of the army.
Number 3, strengthening the arms embargo on Libya to be in a better position to combat the terrorist groups, which is a key national security priority.
That is why France is playing a very active role in the draft resolution strengthening the modalities enabling EUNAVFOR Sophia to take action on the high seas against ships carrying weapons. This is by the way one of the main issues we discussed this morning with Federica Mogherini.
And finally strengthening the government of national accord’s control over the country’s financial and economic institutions, beginning with the Central bank, and this is at the heart of the tools the government has. This is vital to achieving the concrete results that the Libyan people expect in their daily lives, and that will in return reinforce the credibility and the authority of the government. So this is all about trying to create a virtuous cycle there. And again unity is the key to Libya’s security but also to the country prosperity. This is basically what I wanted to say before this obviously very important meeting.
Q: Ambassador is it still outside of territorial waters? What you asked for?
A: Yes, it is.
Q: And you expect it to be passed when?
A: Frankly the sooner the better. The draft resolution was circulated among the 15 as you know. We are working in a good spirit, two or three points remain to be solved but I would say that the consultations go well, frankly in a good, and constructive spirit. And our goal is to have the resolution adopted before the next general affairs’ council on the 20th of June, so let’s better hurry. We have still a few days before us.
Q: Ambassador, can I ask you about Syria? The Security Council had asked the UN to send a letter to the Syrian government on consent for airstrike. There is some confusion about what the UN has actually sent this letter to the Syrian government or not?what is your position?
A: To my knowledge, but we will have to check, it is in the process of being done. You know France’s position on this. The plan is to allow full and unimpeded humanitarian access to all populations in need and to land operations. And if it doesn’t work it would be a shame by the way, because we are not requesting anything to the Syrian government but asking them to respect their obligations under international law. If it doesn’t work then according to the May 17th communiqué in Vienna, we have to stick to our word and to engage into airdrops. We all know it’s not the easiest option, we all know it’s risky, but if there is no other choice to provide populations in need with aid, then we have to go. And that’s why we encourage the UN to go this way, the sooner the better. We cannot wait anymore.
Q: What happen if Syria says no?
That’s the question you had the other day. Our view is we have to maximize pressure and to ask the UN to go for airdrops is also a way to maximize pressure.
Q: But it is seen repeatedly that they haven’t been able to get in medical equipment and drugs. When you do it with the airdrops are you able to get it in, because there are not inspecting the cargo I am assuming?
A: That’s a good point.
Q: So that is maybe one benefit of airdrops?
A: You said it, it’s true. Again we have to be honest with ourselves, it’s not the easiest option and with weeks of airdrops you can reach what you can have in one or two day of land access. But we consider that we have to stick to our word, to keep our promise made in Vienna on May the 17th, number one. Number two, airdrops can help even if is not the backbone of a humanitarian program — it cannot be — it can help in the margin to help populations in need. And number 3, politically it’s also as a symbol, a very important way to pressure the Syrian regime. So for these 3 reasons, we strongly believe we have to go.