News / Europe

Turkey Backing Libyan Opposition

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks to Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board of the Libyan National Transitional Congress Ali al-Issawi (L) before a news conference after their meeting in the rebel-held Benghazi, Libya, July 3, 2011
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks to Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board of the Libyan National Transitional Congress Ali al-Issawi (L) before a news conference after their meeting in the rebel-held Benghazi, Libya, July 3, 2011
Dorian Jones

Marking a shift in its position, Turkey is putting its full weight behind the Libyan opposition, promising $200 million and calling for Libyan government leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi to go. A leader of the Libyan opposition is due to hold talks Wednesday in Ankara.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country has given its unequivocal support to the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. During a visit Sunday to Benghazi, the Turkish diplomat declared the Libyan opposition is the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and that Gadhafi should go.

Turkey had close ties with Gadhafi and was one of few counties arguing he could still play a role in resolving the Libyan conflict. Senior Turkish diplomat Selim Yenel said the shift in policy was not taken lightly.  

"We have been very cautious in our approach, we tried to keep a dialogue with both sides, although we were criticized for this," said Yenel.  "But in the end we saw that dialogue with Gadhafi became impossible. And we saw that the people in Benghazi were acting more and more responsible. So in the end we came up to finally accept this reality. And realize that the representation by the people in Benghazi."

Ankara is backing up its words of support to the Libyan opposition with $200 million, in addition to the $100 million it already has given.  Turkish officials say the funds are to help meet the day-to-day needs of the opposition.  

Ankara's strong support for the Libyan opposition brings it in line with its Western allies, according to Turkish diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz. He said until now Turkey was following a more independent policy toward the region.

"The 'proactive' in Turkish foreign policy to the region is over," said Idiz. "Now we [are] in the stage of reaction, in other words, reacting to the emerging situation. I do not think Turkey can be a shaper and framer of processes on its own, and we see much more cooperation or more parallels between Turkey's position and Washington position."

The opposition leader responsible for foreign affairs for the Transitional National Council, Mahmud Jibril, is to hold talks with the Turkish and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers Wednesday in Ankara.

Carnegie Institute scholar Sinan Ulgen, who heads the Turkish foreign affairs research organization Edam, said now that Turkey is in line with its Western allies it can play an effective role.

"As a Muslim country and a member of NATO, Turkey will have a significant role to play," said Ulgen. "And already contributing not an insignificant amount of resources to the Libyan opposition, Turkey has demonstrated its willingness to remain engaged and to help the fate of the Libyan [people]. So yes, going forward Turkey will remain one of most instrumental actors within the West."

The upcoming talks are expected to include the opening of an opposition office in Turkey and preparations for a meeting of the so-called International Contact Group on Libya on July 15 and 16 in Istanbul. That meeting will focus on a post-Gadhafi Libya, in which Turkey has its own economic interests, according to Yenel.

"We are all thinking about what will happen after Gadhafi leaves power, how things could develop, so all issues will be on the table," said Yenel. "The economic consideration - interest and trade deals - will come next, it's not a primary concern, but it's a concern definitely.  Because we had about 25,000 workers [in Libya], eventually we hope they will go back, but it is a second consideration."

Observers say the reluctance of Ankara to completely sever ties was in part driven by the multi-billion-dollar contracts it has with the Libyan government. But now that Ankara has thrown its weight behind the Libya opposition, Turkey's banking authorities on Monday seized control of the Libyan-Turkish bank A&T in line with U.N. sanctions.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid