Today, we the Defence Ministers of Allies and operational partners in the NATO-led operation Unified Protector met to take stock of the situation in Libya and to reaffirm our commitment to support the enforcement of UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973. These provide a clear mandate to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack, and to enforce the no-fly zone and arms embargo.
Our operation reinforces international community objectives, as set out by the Contact Group on Libya, to bring about a speedy resolution to the crisis, to put an end to the violence, and to allow the Libyan people to freely determine their own future. Our operation continues to enjoy strong regional support and to benefit from invaluable contributions from non-NATO partners.
We are fulfilling our mandate. We have made significant and steady progress and saved countless lives as a result. By maintaining a high operational tempo and carrying out precision strikes against legitimate military targets, we have seriously degraded the ability of the Qadhafi regime to attack civilians and relieved the pressure on civilian populated areas such as Misratah. Our operations are being conducted with the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties.
We condemn the continued attacks by the Libyan regime against its own population and its refusal to comply with international community demands as laid out in UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973. We have intensified our efforts, including through the deployment of additional fixed and rotary wing strike aircraft, and are determined to continue our operation to protect the Libyan people for as long as necessary. We have therefore extended Operation Unified Protector for a further 90 days from 27 June. We are committed to providing the necessary means and maximum operational flexibility within our mandate to sustain these efforts and welcome additional contributions to our common efforts. We strongly reaffirm the goals laid out by our Foreign Ministers in Berlin on 14 April that the Libyan regime must cease attacks on civilians; verifiably withdraw all its forces to bases; and allow immediate, full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.
We have a clear UN mandate and the means and determination to see it through. We are confident that the right combination of military, political, and economic pressure will help bring an end to attacks on civilians and set the conditions for the Libyan people to determine their own future. We commend the efforts undertaken by the United Nations, through the UNSG’s Special Envoy, the Contact Group and relevant regional organizations, and others to achieve a credible and sustainable political solution. We look forward to the results of the Contact Group meeting in Abu Dhabi tomorrow in support of broader international efforts to end the crisis.
We will continue to coordinate with other key organisations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the League of Arab States and the African Union, and to consult with others such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and we encourage these organisations’ efforts in the immediate and longer term post-conflict period. Once the goals laid out in Berlin have been achieved, NATO stands ready to play a role, if requested and if necessary, in support of post-conflict efforts that should be initiated by the United Nations and the Contact Group on Libya.
Time is working against Qadhafi who has clearly lost all legitimacy and therefore needs to step down. There is no future for a regime that has systematically threatened and attacked its own population. The Libyan people deserve to decide their own future within a sovereign, independent and united Libya.