Asked by a journalist after a NATO meeting in Bucharest whether Russia was looking for a second Mediterranean naval base as a reward for his apparent support for Khalifa Haftar, Stoltenberg said: “We have seen the effects of the Russian presence in Syria , how that created an even more difficult situation in Syria, and of course we must avoid any similar situation in Libya “.
He called on all actors, including Russia, to support the United Nations-led peace efforts and the UN-recognized Presidential Council (CP) to ensure a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Stoltenberg said he had met with CP chief Faiez Serraj many times, most recently at the UN General Assembly in New York, where they discussed NATO support. Libya needs to build strong defense and security institutions with well-trained forces. Stoltenberg said the country should not end up with new militia groups undermining its stability.
“So we intend to help them build a modern defense ministry,” he said.
According to a recently published book ( “The Unknown Libya, The Chronicle of an Undecided Country” ) by an Italian academic, Italy has been abandoned by her colleagues in the EU and should turn to Russia, with which she shares common interests in Libya.
Michela Mercuri, professor of history at the University of Macerata – whose specialization focuses on the themes of Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, history and geopolitics of the Mediterranean region, with particular reference to Libya – told Sputnik’s Russian journalist that she saw no viable way to stabilize Libya, as none of the proposed solutions had received the unanimous support of European countries.
Mercuri said that even though Russia used to support Haftar, she was now acting as a middleman trying to bring together the commander of the Libyan National Army (ANL) and Serraj.
“Putin and Lavrov met them,” she added, “Russia could play an important role in the Libyan crisis as a mediator, and that is where Italy, abandoned by other European countries, could collaborate with Russia to stabilize the situation. In addition, our two countries have common interests in Libya where they are currently in talks with the Libyan oil company NOC>