Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has a seat waiting for him at the Libya conference in Paris on Friday, the first time ever for the east Mediterranean island to officially state its views on the war-torn country proxied by power struggles in the region.
Anastasiades will attend the Conference on Libya, which convenes on Friday in Paris hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who invited the Cypriot president to attend over Ankara’s disapproval.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said he had told Macron during a G-20 summit in Rome that Ankara “cannot attend a Paris conference to which Greece, Israel and the Greek Cypriot administration participate.”
'This is our condition. If these countries are to attend the conference, then there is also no need to send special representatives' the Turkish president had said previously
“This is our condition. If these countries are to attend the conference, then there is also no need to send special representatives,” the Turkish president said.
Cyprus, Greece, and Israel have been partnering up in recent years, while also playing a role in a regional gas forum that leaves Turkey out of the equation. Egypt, which has friendly relations with Nicosia, has also been at odds with Erdogan after he challenged the legitimacy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi following a Cairo coup in 2013.
But Ankara this week announced Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal would in fact attend the conference in Paris.
Cypriot government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos said participants were expected to discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops and the political process in Libya, in view of the elections to be held in the country in December.
The conference is being sponsored by the United Nations, Germany, and Italy.
France had a leading role in the NATO air campaign
Various groups have been fighting each other inside Libya to gain power, even targeting the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli which is backed by Ankara.
France had a leading role in a NATO air campaign that led to Gaddafi's removal in 2011, leaving behind a power vacuum with many countries taking an interest in the political outcome with economic opportunities also at stake.
Two elections, a presidential vote in late December and parliament elections remain the focus of a United Nations plan to help restore stability, but the timing has been a big concern as tensions were high between rival camps.
Warlord commander Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates, has waged war against the UN-recognized government, with additional foreign powers also vying for influence.
The Egyptian president, who also backed Haftar, said he would attend the confernece as well.
Ankara says Turkish presence in Libya is legitimate
Erdogan says Turkish presence in Libya is legitimate and falls under an agreement with the Libyan government.
Turkey and France almost came to blows in summer 2020 after a French warship attempted to inspect a Turkish vessel, citing UN arms embargo against Libya.
Ankara claims that Turkey’s involvement has thwarted French hopes for Haftar to capture the Libyan capital.
Cyprus has also made headlines over Libya after a crop-duster modified plane suspected of violating UN Security Council resolutions in the conflict ended up flying to the island where it was stored in a private hangar.
Nicosia goes to Paris over Turkey's objection as power politics take center stage ahead of crucial Libyan elections