Thursday, June 20, 2024
 
 

EU to revive Operation Sophia to help tackle Libya crisis

EPA-EFE/FOCKE STRANGMANN
A tug boat turns the frigate F213 'Augsburg' of the German Navy (Bundesmarine) as it returns from the EUNAVFOR MED (European Union Naval Force ? Mediterranean) Operation SOPHIA to its home port Wilhelmshaven, northern Germany, 15 February 2019. After five month in the Mediterranean Sea, the almost 30 years old vessel finishes its last official mission before being decommissioned in late 2019.

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EU foreign ministers decided to revive Operation Sophia to enforce a potential cease-fire in Libya and a UN arms embargo in the country.
“It’s clear that the arms embargo requires high-level control and if you want to keep the ceasefire alive someone has to monitor it”, the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said before the meeting. He recently suggested an EU military mission to protect cease-fire in Libya.
Operation Sophia is the EU’s surveillance mission along the Libyan Mediterranean coast. It had previously shrunk from a full-on naval deployment in 2015 to drone surveillance. It had a mandate to enforce the UN arms embargo in Libya but the maritime mission has been unable to enforce it.
“There’s an agreement in the Council in order to revive, refocus Operation Sophia”, Borrell later announced.
The conflict in Libya has erupted since Turkey’s parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to the country’s UN-recognized government (GNA), which has been in conflict with the warlord Khalifa Haftar, commander of the (LNA), whose forces are supported by Russia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have since been leading the negotiations, known as the Berlin peace process, aiming for a cease-fire, which Haftar rejected.
Borrell said that the EU’s Political and Security Committee has been tasked with redefining Sophia’s mandate. The final decision will be made on 17 February.

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