Speech Delivered by H.E. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Libya (Ankara, 7 April 2011)

Distinguished Members of the Press,

I would like to take this opportunity to make an overall assessment as regards the recent developments in Libya and inform you about the ongoing processes.

First of all, I need to express the deep concern and sorrow with which we are following the pain and plight that our Libyan brothers have to endure during these hard times.

As I have underlined on so many occasions, the Turkish and Libyan peoples are tied to each other with strong bonds of brotherhood, in addition to the fact that our countries share a common history and culture.

In light of the recent developments in Libya, Turkey has reacted from the outset in the most sensitive way and has viewed the situation through a humanitarian perspective as well as within the context of bonds of brotherhood.

Just as Turkey has never remained indifferent to any problems in her region and in the world, she has not turned a blind eye to the hardship of her brothers and tried to display the responsible attitude that befits her.

Turkey has never adopted a wait-and-see approach regarding the developments that commenced on 17 February 2011 in Libya. As required by the principles and values that we believe in, our stance has focused on upholding human rights and justice, rather than pursuing self-interest, and we have tried to display a constructive and conciliatory attitude, maintaining dialogue with all parties.

The fundamental purpose of our policy regarding Libya is the creation of necessary conditions to ensure a transition to constitutional democracy in line with the legitimate demands of the people and the preservation of Libya’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

In this framework, it is important that the attacks against the people come to a halt and that the transition is concluded in line with the general acceptance of the people.

Therefore, from the onset, we have strived to take all necessary steps, without any hesitation.

I want to underline this once more: While doing this, we carry no hidden agenda. Our sole agenda is to guarantee the unity and well-being of Libya.

For us, a drop of a Libyan blood is more valuable than billion Dollars-worth of oil wells.

Wherever they may be in Libya, the life and right of each and every one of our Libyan brothers are above all considerations of interest; this is the way it should be.

Human rights and justice are not voluntary favors that can be bestowed on people. These are sacred values that every human being is entitled to. They cannot be disregarded nor can they be suppressed by political motivations.

Just as we cannot tolerate the violations of fundamental human rights or endure the suppression of justice, we cannot remain silent in the face of blood-letting and the loss of lives.

Our all efforts are aimed at directing the process in such a way to serve the well-being and welfare of the Libyan people.

Just as we struggle, day and night, to stop the spilling of blood in Libya, we spare no effort to lend a helping hand to our aggrieved Libyan brothers.

Recently, we have sent the Ankara ferry, which has lately been transformed into a medical-ship, in order to treat our Libyan brothers wounded in the intense fighting in Misurata. Our ship, which also went to Benghazi in order to pick up the wounded there, returned to Çeşme with 475 people, including 321 wounded.

This operation was undertaken with the use of our military and civil units and under immense security risks that nobody else could have easily taken. We continue to treat the wounded in our hospitals. Until they are fully recovered, they will be our guests. We will continue with these aid operations in the future.

In this regard, we want the NATO operation to be conducted efficiently, in line with the directives drawn out by the UN Security Council resolutions and accepted by consensus by the NATO Council. On the other hand, we actively participate in the implementation of the arms embargo as well as the provision of humanitarian aid to the Libyan people. Following the establishment of a genuine ceasefire in Libya, the process of political transition leading to constitutional democracy should be launched immediately. The commencement of a political process which will meet the legitimate aspirations and expectations of the people carries great importance for the future of Libya. It is our genuine wish that the Libyan people emerge from this process unharmed.

I would like to call upon my brothers from Benghazi from this platform. The brotherly Turkish people feel your cries for justice and liberty deep in their hearts and show great sensitivity for the ending of your grievances and the reflection of your expectations to the processes.

From the outset, we have heavily criticized interventions against people who demand rights and justice. We have sincerely strived towards overcoming the difficulties you are going through. We will continue to support your legitimate demands and strive to prevent the injustices to which you are exposed.

It is regrettable to witness today the defamatory campaigns of certain power centers against Turkey, who had once remained silent in the face of humanitarian dramas in the region and had long considered the Libyan people unworthy of democracy. We are aware of the identity of those centers of power who are behind these campaigns. We follow them carefully and take note of their actions. I strongly believe that you will not give credence to these premeditated propaganda activities against your Turkish brothers. In particular, I want to stress that unfounded allegations claiming that we have tried to prevent the NATO operation or limit its mandate are dark propaganda lies fabricated with certain motivations.

You should know that the Turkish people always stand by the side of the right and the rightful.

I would also like to call upon my brothers from Tripoli. Turkey attaches great importance to the cessation of all hostilities, the establishment of internal peace and national unity. The territorial integrity and sovereignty must be preserved at all costs. Your attitude is of great importance for putting an end to the bloodshed. I believe that you will say “stop” to this negative trend, taking inspiration from the values of our civilization.

I have a request from my brothers from Tripoli, Benghazi, Misurata, Tobruk, Ecdebiya, Zintan, Zawiya, Sebha and Brega: Be one and united, paying tribute to the spirit of Ömer Muhtar, the symbolic leader of Libya, who we also hold in great esteem.

I would like to call on the Libyan administration from this platform:

As I have told you in person from the very beginning, it is high time for you to shoulder your historical responsibility in order to open the way for a transition towards constitutional democracy in which people would be able to elect their leaders with their free will..

It is of vital importance for the well-being of your country that you respond positively to the appeals of your people and the international community.

Listen to those calls and take the necessary steps urgently.

Distinguished Members of the Press,

We are conveying such messages to all groups and parties in Libya. In this connection, we conveyed the necessary messages to Libyan Acting Foreign Minister Abdulati El-Ubeydi, who visited Ankara as Qaddafi’s Special Envoy. We also received a message from him.

I dispatched Ambassador Ömür Şölendil to Benghazi as my Special Envoy with a mandate to foster dialogue with our brothers in Benghazi and identify areas of cooperation in order to contribute to the well-being of the Libyan people.

My Special Envoy held fruitful talks with Mr. Abdülcelil, Head of the Libya National Transition Council and other Council members. In my message, I underlined that the brotherly Turkish people will always stand by them and have invited them to visit Turkey.

As a result of these contacts, we have started working on a Road Map that envisages a peaceful transition process and protects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya. The three elements of this Road Map are as follows:

1. A genuine ceasefire should be established immediately and the forces affiliated with Qaddafi should lift the siege they impose on certain cities and withdraw from them.

2. Secure humanitarian zones should be established to provide unimpeded humanitarian aid to all our Libyan brothers indiscriminately.

3. A comprehensive democratic change and transformation process that takes into consideration the legitimate interests of all Libyan people must be launched immediately and urgently. This process should aim at establishing a constitutional democracy in which people would be able to elect their leaders with their free will.

In this framework, we are working on the details of this Road Map with a view to establishing a genuine ceasefire in Libya and the initiation of a process of political transformation. We will continue our contacts with the parties in order to keep up this plan in a comprehensive manner.

We intend to share this plan, which we have been developing in consultation with the leading members of the international community, with our partners, including regional and international organizations such as the UN, EU, African Union, League of Arab States and OIC, at the Libya Contact Group meeting which will take place in Qatar.

We believe that H.E. Khatip, UN Special Representative for Libya must play an essential role in all these endeavors and we continue our efforts in close consultation and cooperation.

Our people will always stand by the brotherly Libyan people and will work together with our Libyan brothers for the future of Libya.