(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has requested the EU’s support in the training of the Libyan Navy, Coast Guard, and security services, ahead of the European Union foreign ministers meeting to be held on Monday,
After receiving Sarraj’s written request on Sunday, Vice President of the EU Commision Federica Mogherini published a statement saying, “this is an important development that I will discuss with ministers at tomorrow’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council with a view to making this operational as soon as possible so as to support the Libyans with the many challenges that need facing.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, EU foreign ministers are expected to give a green light to the request.
In addition, in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday, Mogherini said that the EU and NATO were planning on cooperating with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to train Libyan coastguards to help put a stop to human smugglers trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean.
NATO agreed to aid the EU in Operation Sophia, which is their anti-migrant smuggling military operation in the Mediterranean, by providing ships, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The EU conducts Operation Sophia in international waters near Libya, but their vessels are too far out to destroy boats used by people smugglers or stop migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.
Therefore, it is in the EU’s best interest to work closely with the GNA in order to put a stop to the constant flow of migrants coming from Libya to Italy. Recently, due to the closing of the Turkey-Greece migrant route coupled with calmer seas, the number of migrants arriving to Italy has exceeded the amount arriving in Greece.
Last week, in a meeting between over 20 regional and European nations in Vienna, world powers agreed to Sarraj’s request to provide his government with arms so that the Libyan military is properly equipped to eradicate ISIS from Libya.
On his part, Serraj reiterated that Libya was requesting foreign aid to help train its military and weapons to fight against ISIS, and not foreign intervention in the form of “any boots or any boats on the ground.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the training of Libya’s navy and coast guard is likely to take place in international waters, while commanders will likely be brought to EU countries for training.
Western nations are keen on establishing security and stability in the oil rich country, and stated that they had faith in the GNA to defeat ISIS and put a stop to the large flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to reach Europe.