Germany, france and italy threaten to punish countries that violate the UN arms embargo in place for libya.
"We are ready to consider the possible imposition of sanctions should violations of the embargo at sea, on land or in the air continue," a joint statement by chancellor angela merkel, french president emmanuel macron and italian head of government giuseppe conte said saturday evening.
Specific countries that could be targeted for sanctions were not named in the statement. France, however, has long accused turkey of violating the current embargo by supplying weapons to the troops of the libyan unity government. Turkey, in turn, accuses countries such as the united arab emirates of flouting the embargo by supplying weapons to government opponent general chalifa haftar.
Oil-rich libya has been gripped by civil war since the overthrow of long-term ruler muammar al-gaddafi in 2011. The government forces are supported by turkey, haftar in turn by egypt, the united arab emirates and russia. All attempts to mediate in the conflict have so far been unsuccessful – including a libya conference in berlin in january.
With the declaration, germany, france and italy now sharpen their tone. One calls all libyan parties as well as their foreign supporters to stop immediately the fighting and the military armament in the whole country, is called in the text published at the edge of the EU special summit in brussels. They also called on all foreign players to "end their increasing interference and fully comply with the arms embargo imposed by the united nations security council".
For the EU, a solution to the conflict is especially important because the chaotic conditions in the country encourage the business of gangs of smugglers who bring migrants illegally across the mediterranean to europe.
To monitor the arms embargo, the EU had already launched operation irini in the spring. The basic goal of the military mission is to stabilize libya and support the UN-led political peace process. In addition to arms smuggling, the EU operation should prevent illegal oil smuggling. In addition, libyan coast guard and navy personnel continue to be trained to also help dismantle the business model of smuggling and human trafficking networks.
If the instrument of sanctions is really resorted to, these would presumably first be imposed within the EU framework against persons or companies involved in arms deliveries to libya. Those affected would have to fear asset freezes and persons also EU entry bans. Basis for punitive measures could be united nations reports on sanctions violations. For example, the findings from the EU’s operation irini will be sent to new york for evaluation.