Tunisia is at equal distance from different Libyan parties (Jhinaoui)
13/05/2019 18:20, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) – "Tunisia is at equal distance between the different Libyan parties, but it does not remain neutral insofar as it is working to stop the fighting in this country and find a solution for peace between the various protagonists in the conflict," Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said in an interview given to TAP on Monday.

Jhinaoui recalled that Tunisia has repeatedly clarified its position on the Libyan issue. He pointed out, in this vein, that the various Libyan parties in conflict have been contacted with a view to reaching an agreement to stop the fighting.

President Beji Caïd Essebsi had presented since 2017 an initiative for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in this country. The Tunisian authorities are in permanent contact with the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan Salamé, he noted.

"Tunisia cannot stand at the side of one Libyan protagonist at the expense of the other, given the neighbourhood ties that exist between Libyans and Tunisians," Jhinaoui said.

He added: "We want a brotherly Libyan state where security and stability prevail. Tunisia's national interest is in the resumption of normal daily life in Libya, which would boost the Tunisian economy.

Jhinaoui believes that not taking a position in favour of one Libyan side does not mean that Tunisia is standing in the other's ranks.

"Tunisia has no agenda in Libya, it works in coordination with the various Libyan parties except for terrorists, who must be fought by the Libyans themselves," the minister said.

Jhinaoui also pointed out that the United Nations has reported the existence of 60,000 Libyan refugees since the beginning of hostilities in Libya, not to mention the hundreds of wounded admitted to Tunisian hospitals.

"We no longer want bloodshed in this sisterly country; we do not want it to become a source of tension," Jhinaoui said.

"The only possible solution in Libya would be purely political," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, assuring that the various protagonists will ultimately be led to sit around the same negotiating table to find a consensual political solution.

Jhinaoui believes that Libya is threatened by the spectre of terrorism and that it is the duty of all Libyans to pull together to fight it.

On the other hand, the Minister raised the ongoing international community's differences on the Libyan issue.

In this regard, he called on the Libyans to uphold the supreme interest of their country and to place it above all other considerations, saying they have the necessary wisdom to understand that it is now essential to save their country.

The ongoing divisions in Libya will inevitably lead to differences within the international community on the Libyan issue, he said.

He added that "we do not want to enter into any axis. We want to be "the refuge" and "the voice that gives advice to the Libyan brothers".

For the Tunisians, the Libyan issue is a "sensitive" one. And it is in our interest to "not enter into the policy of axes". Tunisian public opinion must understand this, he said.

He recalled that Tunisia has held intense talks on the Libyan issue, including with the French and Italian Foreign Ministers. He also recalled the visit to Tunisia of the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs on April 28, at the end of which the two sides issued a joint statement on developments in Libya.

He said that a tripartite meeting bringing together Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt will soon take place in Tunis. The three parties will discuss ways to encourage Libyans to stop fighting.

Jhinaoui urged the international community to work for a ceasefire in Libya, without conditions and to resume dialogue as soon as possible.

He recalled that Tunisia's position is only expressed by the President of the Republic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Tunisian State, represented by its various official bodies, noting that "no one else represents the Tunisian State".

"This issue is sensitive and of crucial importance for Tunisia. It cannot in any way be the subject of political overbidding by the various actors on the Tunisian political scene."

Jhinaoui said that there are parties on the national scene who exploit the Libyan case for internal ideological or political considerations.

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