ROME – Is the EU’s diplomatic mission to Libya a no-go?

After an airstrike on a military school in the Libyan capital Tripoli that killed at least 30 cadets on Saturday, the status of the expected EU diplomatic mission to Libya, strongly solicited by Italy, has been cast into uncertainty.

The mission was announced by the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) but when EURACTIV asked the Commission on 28 December to confirm the mission, an EU Spokesperson replied: “At this stage, I have nothing to announce in this regard.”

GNA has called an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the deadly airstrike, claiming that rebels loyal to Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar were behind the shelling. However, a spokesperson of Haftar categorically denied any connection of his forces to the attack, blaming terrorists from Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood instead.

On Sunday, Turkey’s government “strongly condemned” the airstrike, while President Erdogan announced that Turkish military units had started moving to Libya to support Faiez el-Serraj and the UN-backed government.

The EU mission to Libya, initially planned to be launched on Tuesday (7 January) with the aim to bring about a ceasefire in the country, appears set to be shelved.

The diplomatic mission was an idea of Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio after his visit to Tripoli and Benghazi in mid-December last year. It should involve the bloc’s diplomacy boss Josep Borrell together with Italian, French, German and British foreign affairs ministers.

Di Maio will meet his German counterpart Heiko Maas and Borrell in Rome today and he is expected to fly to Cairo, Tunis and Algiers from Wednesday to Thursday.

Di Maio has not scheduled a visit to Libya yet, while sources close to Italy’s Foreign ministry are now sounding pessimistic about the starting of the mission. (Gerardo Fortuna | EURACTIV.com)

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