Press briefing on Libya
by NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu and Mike Bracken, Spokesperson for the Operation Unified Protector
Good afternoon. Hello to everybody here in Brussels, and to those joining us in Naples. Before I hand over to Wing Commander Mike Bracken for the operational update, let me give you this week’s overview.
The Secretary General is currently meeting the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conferences, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. The OIC is part of the Contact Group on Libya and has played an important role in the diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. As you know, NATO has from the very start engaged with a wide range of regional and international actors, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the African Union and the OIC as well. We all know that there is no military solution to the crisis – NATO is fully implementing the United Nations mandate to protect civilians and ultimately pave the way for a political solution.
We can see this combination of military pressure and reinforced political pressure is working. NATO is steadily and systematically striking every link in Qadhafi’s kill chain and saving thousands of lives every day. Meanwhile, Qadhafi’s international isolation continues to grow – Senegal recognised the legitimacy of the National Transitional Council just the other day, as did Canada, joining many others, including France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
I noticed that one of Qadhafi’s sons said in an interview yesterday, “my father’s regime as it developed since 1969 is dead.” He’s exactly right – and he should know. But Qadhafi should stop killing, brutalising and threatening his people in the name of a regime that even his son says is defunct.
Clearly, time is not on Qadhafi’s side. He is Libya’s past, not its future. NATO has absolute commitment to see this mission through. And we can sustain the operation for as long as we choose.
That was the very strong message during the Secretary General’s trip to London on Tuesday, where he met Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Of course they also discussed the start of transition in Afghanistan – and the increasing capability of Afghan security forces to take over lead responsibility for security. In Madrid yesterday, discussions with Prime Minister Zapatero focused on NATO’s potential role in a post-conflict Libya. The Secretary General has made it very clear that we see the United Nations playing the lead role once our mission is accomplished – and the whole of the international community should be planning for that day as a matter of priority.
Finally, you may have seen that earlier today the Swedish parliament extended the country’s participation in Operation Unified Protector by another three months. Sweden is a valued partner and we very much welcome this decision.
And with that I can hand over the floor to Naples and Wing Commander Mike Bracken. Mike.