Greek FM says cancelled visit to Tripoli was scheduled at Menfi’s request

Greek FM says cancelled visit to Tripoli was scheduled at Menfi’s request

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias discussed the results of his visit to Libya earlier this week, in an interview released on Saturday.

Greece and Libya clashed on Thursday following the last-minute cancelation of the Greek foreign minister’s Tripoli part of the visit.

The Greek official had refused to disembark from the plane at Tripoli airport when he realized that waiting to greet him on the tarmac was the foreign minister of the Libyan Government of National Unity, Najla Mangoush, who signed the Turkish-Libyan oil and gas exploration deal a few weeks earlier.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, Dendias explained that the stop had been agreed at the request of the Chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi, on the strict condition that there would be no contacts with the transitional government.

“We were going to go, see him and leave,” Dendias said, adding that the appearance at the airport of Mangoush meant that the agreement was not kept.

When asked by the newspaper if decision was a not only matter of symbolism but also of substance, the Greek top diplomat responded that it is “absolutely both” as the Tripoli-based government is “not authorized” to sign agreements with Turkey.

“They [UN] say that this government must hold elections. And not only does it not hold elections, but it takes advantage of its continued presence, exploits Libya’s resources at will and signs [agreements] with the Turks. Well, this cannot happen,” he stated

Following the developments at Tripoli airport, Dendias took off to Benghazi, where he met with the General Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, House Speaker Aguia Saleh , and Heads of Committees of the Libyan House of Representatives.

According to the Greek official, the purpose of the visit was to try to maintain a strong relationship with Eastern Libya, and therefore with the parliament as “a body that lends strength to Greece’s position against the acceptance and agreement of illegal agreements with the Turks.”

“Saleh and Haftar were absolutely on the line that we would like them to be,” said Dendias. “They emphasized that the Turkish presence is harmful and unacceptable.”

“It was important to see Saleh and Haftar, because they had gone to Turkey. Erdoğan himself saw them, Erdoğan also saw the Libyan MPs, that’s why I also went to the parliament and explained our positions to them,” added the Greek chief diplomat.

Asked if he is optimistic about elections in Libya in the near future, Dendias responded: “No. I think the possibility of holding them has gone way back, so we have to see what we do.”.