Turkey, Malta and Libya on Thursday agreed to promote joint cooperation, facilitate the return of Maltese and Turkish companies to Libya and resume flights between the three countries, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, his Maltese counterpart Evarist Bartolo and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj held a meeting in Libya’s capital Tripoli to discuss the latest situation in the North African country and joint cooperation between the three nations.

During the meeting, the sides underlined the need to strengthen Libya’s southern borders and combat human trafficking and smuggling, noting that illegal migration posed a threat not only to the EU, but to Libya as well.

Both Turkey and Malta expressed their readiness to support Libya’s internationally recognized government against illegal migration.

They emphasized the importance of the EU’s participation in “tackling the root causes of illegal migration by helping the development of source countries.”

The three countries also agreed to set up a joint working team to coordinate efforts and cooperation for the transformation of agreements into concrete and practical projects.

During the meeting, Cavusoglu and Bartolo stressed their support for Tripoli, saying: “There is no military solution to the Libyan crisis, and stability and security of Libya are of a great significance.”

Situation in Libya

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The UN recognizes the government headed by al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as it has battled warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias – with the support of Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and France — since April 2019 in a conflict that has taken more than 1,000 lives.

Turkey — a steadfast supporter of Libya’s legitimate government — has taken issue with EU member France’s support for Haftar.

Turkey has also said that an EU operation to enforce an arms embargo on Libya is ineffective and selective, as it fails to intercept arms from Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and others.

Libya in North Africa and the Mediterranean island of Malta are separated by only about 357 kilometers (222 miles).

Malta has been an EU member since 2004.

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