LIBYA, ITALY GIVES SUPPORT MISSION TO LIBYAN AUTHORITIES
Ensuring logistical, technical and operational support to Libyan naval forces, accompanying and supporting them through joint and coordinated activities, and ensuring the maintenance and restoration of equipment efficiency, as explicitly requested on 23rd July by the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Al Sarraj, in a letter sent to President Paolo Gentiloni. Thus, the minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti described the Italian commitment to Libya. “To carry out these activities, the Libyan authorities have demanded to operate in their territorial waters and in their ports,” the Minister said, and also spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano, pointing out that “all activities will take place on the basis of the Libyan authorities and, therefore, in the closest co-ordination with them. “No interference or injury to Libyan sovereignty, therefore. Sovereignty that, indeed, is to be strengthened. “Our job is to help the Libyans in rescue activities and in contrasting the traffickers,” she said. A naval blockade is excluded “because it is a hostile act” but we will offer a response to the call for support and assistance to the activities of the Libyan coast guard.
Naval units used for this mission will be taken from the “Mare Sicuro” national system, already operative in international waters. No additional burden, therefore, compared to what Parliament has already approved. The rules of engagement will be the same as the Mare Sicuro operation, with the necessary adaptations for the bilateral character of the operation. “On the basis of international law, self-defense of our military is always legitimate,” Pinotti explained. This includes the important decision of the Libyan authorities to officially declare the so-called “SAR area”, namely the search and rescue area under their responsibility. Italy has long been strongly committed to stabilizing Libya, with staff training and media supply. “The Libyan demand for naval support is born in a climate of absolute mutual trust that is not extemporaneous, Italy has always acted in respect of Libyan sovereignty,” said Minister Alfano. “The international community must unify its efforts under the protection of the UN”, also in light of the proliferation of unilateral initiatives of the last months that has questioned the role of former UN Special Representative Kobler. The new Special Representative Ghassan Salame, will be in Rome on August 8, Alfano announced, and explained to parliamentarians that on that occasion he will ask him “to impose a new impetus on UN action. His agenda is our agenda. “Lastly, for the operations already started in Libya, Pinotti recalled that since June 2016 with the European operation “Sophia” Italy has been conducting training activities for Libyan naval forces. In October 2016 Italy launched the “Ippocrate” operation to install a field hospital in Misurata to assist the wounded in the fight against Isis.