Statement by Mr.Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the situation in Libya
We would like to thank you, Mr. President, and the Chinese delegation for convening today’s important meeting, and Mr. Salamé for his objective briefing. Mr. Salamé knows that Russia very much appreciates his efforts and his honest and professional attitude to his work.
We know how much he has done to re-establish a United Nations presence in Libya. But the reality there is such that we in the Security Council seldom hear news that gives grounds for optimism. Libya’s profound fragmentation, the predominance of localized interests, sometimes fuelled by external forces, and the absolute power of the armed groups are truly depressing. The outbreaks of violence, to which even the capital of Tripoli is not immune, are very worrying. The power vacuum in the country’s unstable southern regions is intensifying, and the threat of terrorism continues and is getting worse.
That is the result of the irresponsible outside influence on Libya that was brought to bear in 2011. We appreciate the United Nations efforts to restore unity in the country, draw its State institutions, including security structures, closer together and find a way to emerge onto a path of socioeconomic development. We hope to see progress in the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan, one of whose key elements is general elections.
The key to their success must be a general understanding among Libyans of the parameters for the elections, which require compliance with the necessary internal Government procedures. The existence of conditions suitable for the holding of elections is also an essential factor. The elections must represent a step towards unifying the country, not fragmenting it.
We hope that the national conference that Mr. Salamé has just informed us about will help to resolve the issue. The economic reforms proposed by the United Nations, with the participation of specialized international institutions, should be designed to protect Libyans’ interests and promote unification.
We are well aware that it would be extremely difficult for the United Nations to bring Libya out of this deep period of instability alone, and Mr. Salamé will need international aid. It is clear that with his direct assistance, inter-Libyan contacts are taking place at various levels. Libya’s neighbours are providing excellent help on individual tracks, and we should especially note the efforts being made by the Arab Republic of Egypt. International initiatives are being proposed.
Right now we are awaiting the holding of a conference in Palermo, at Italy’s proposal, in which we intend to take a very active part, and we welcome the Italian Government’s ideas and initiatives. We want to emphasize that all efforts should be coordinated under United Nations auspices, as laid down in the relevant Security Council documents.
We take a cautious approach to restrictive measures and evaluate them from the point of view of their effectiveness, as well as their influence on political efforts and the situation of the civilian population. The calls for expanding the sanctions toolkit in the Libyan context have become more frequent lately. We realize the importance of combating those who undermine the peace process, do harm to the economy’s oil sector or commit crimes against civilians or migrants.
However, in many cases the answer is to be found in the arena of national justice and international cooperation in this area. The threat of Security Council sanctions should not be used as an instrument for manipulating events inside Libya in order to settle scores with political opponents, or the sanctions’ results will be the exact opposite of their officially stated purpose.
The chief danger is that in practice well-intended efforts could make the task of unifying the country harder. We urge Council members to carefully study the proposals that our colleague the Permanent Representative of Equatorial Guinea just made for finding a formula for resolving the issue of migration. We need to be combating not the migrants themselves but those who created the migration issue and who are now profiting off their criminal business, an area where sanctions really will be essential.
We need a thorough investigation of the situation concerning Libyan assets that have been frozen under Security Council decisions. The questions that the Libyan authorities have been asking about protecting them are quite justified. Those funds will still be needed when the country restores unity and begins to recover after this massive crisis.
Also, with regard to the vital oil sector, we should emphasize that exploitation of Libya’s natural resources should contribute to the development of the country itself and to improving its citizens’ well-being rather than serving the interests of outside Powers. Libya’s mineral wealth belongs to Libya and its people alone. We took part in the important visit to Tripoli of a delegation from the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya and led by the Permanent Representative of Sweden as part of our planned visit to Libya.
We are in complete agreement with Ambassador Skoog that there is no substitute for field trips in the Security Council’s work. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, we were not able to visit the country’s eastern regions and meet with the local authorities there. We hope that the Chair of the Committee, whose work we very much appreciate, will rectify this as soon as possible, meet the conditions for the mission’s terms of reference, which we all approved, and make a report on that basis to the members of the Committee. Let us work together to help the Ambassador of Sweden, particularly since all the members of the Council have just spoken in favour of these efforts and of maintaining contacts with all the Libyan parties.
We know that Mr. Salamé fully shares that approach and is ready to provide the necessary assistance. The Security Council does not have the right to let its work with Libyan parties become distorted. It would be wrong from a political point of view and could have a negative effect on the vigorous unification efforts currently ongoing under United Nations auspices.
For its part, Russia, basing its efforts on the priceless historical potential of its friendship with the Libyan people, will continue to work with all parties, encouraging them to unite the country, overcome their differences and move forward to a phase of sustainable development. We will undertake those efforts both independently and in collaboration with our friends in the League of Arab States and the African Union, and among our international partners.