Excerpts from Leon’s Remarks, Meeting of Libyan Municipalities and Local Councils Reps. in Brussels

23 Mar 2015

Excerpts from Leon’s Remarks, Meeting of Libyan Municipalities and Local Councils Reps. in Brussels

Monday, 23 March 2015 - Leon: For these mayors, it is very difficult to be here today, many of them live in areas that have been bombed … many of people say you cannot go there, you cannot talk to these people, they are our enemies and they are all here saying yes we have to talk to them and we have to find solution for our problems, this way, although its true that we have five track, we are dealing with tribal leaders, leaders of political parties and the militias leaders and the armed groups and the army.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of UNSMIL, Bernardino Leon, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC (from left to right). Photo from EU Commission audiovisual service)

This track is especially important, this is the track of people who are close to their citizens, the closest one, you know very well their problems, you suffer with them … This track remains really important and we command your engagement and we are asking to continue fighting this way to continue working this way.

It’s the time to try to go from these projects to real achievements we would like to encourage you to convert the list of proposals we have in these areas, such as humanitarian assistance in areas like air transportation and different type of transportation by road, ports etc. and the key area of human rights legal support, exchange of prisoners, disappeared people and kidnapped people, to try to leave Brussels with very concrete idea. You are going to meet some of the most important actors in the world in providing humanitarian assistance, people who have the experience, people who have lived through many different situations and they can provide a lot of help.

We need you to tell us concretely what are the needs and how we can work together and this second point is almost as important as the first, how we can do this together, how we can make sure that cities will be cities without militias how we can tell militias get out of the city because we will bring humanitarian support and this city has to be a city where we can provide help to our citizen. It is not going to be easy in some cases, but militias have to understand, and this will be a first step, that they cannot take the country hostage forever they have to leave the room for the life of the citizens to start again, for the normal life to come back.

So as important as discussing the different concrete needs you have in your cities is how to do it together, how to get the support of the international community in your cities, making sure that militias and fighting will not be taking place there, you will receive a very strong message from all the European countries, European Union is here represented by the highest level, but you are going to meet representatives from key areas in the European Union and from now on they want to be with you with UN, all of us deeply engaged in these efforts. We have also to send very strong message all together against terrorism. All the people around this table all the Libyans share essentially the same values, all of you want a democratic Libya, all of you want a unite Libya, all of you want a Libya that is a modern state able to enjoy the wealth, the unique wealth that the country has in a fair way without corruption in an efficient state. These values are challenged by Daesh and by terrorists groups, not only Daesh, Ansar Al-sharia and al-Qaeda, all of them are around in Libya are also a challenge for all of you together, so it is very important to send a very strong message against terrorism, against Daesh, which is today a very serious threat for Libya, probably the most important threat Libya has but also the international community.

Our work together, your presence here in Brussels, the support we have from High Representative Mogherini and from the European Union makes us be really optimistic, we still have a long way.

I am now, as soon as we finish, traveling back to Libya again then to Morocco we are trying to push for this unity government in the coming days, at the same time we talk, there is also fighting, there are also difficulties on the ground, there is as always we know it very well, people who don’t want these kind of events to take place, they don’t want peace to prevail, but I am sure we will receive from Morocco a very strong call from all the mayors to continue to work and to be successful in this unity government.

But let me tell you something, which until now a secret, in the final proposal for the governance of Libya, we have been asked to explain some of the ideas in the coming days that might be the basis for the future governance of Libya, and together with international community we are going to propose that in the key institutions in the country, there is a council of municipalities, this is not about confidence-building measures, this is not about basic services for the citizens, no this is about the key institutions that have to take Libya out of this mess out of this war and together with the legislative power, together with the executive power, we will propose that there is a municipalities council, and that this municipalities council plays a key role, so keep working together, because I think the group here will be a fantastic starting point for this municipalities council to succeed in this future architecture. It will not be the only institution, we are not saying that only council of municipalities we will need, of course many other institutions and legislative and executive will be involved, but I insist the municipalities have to play a key role.

Look around, you are in the capital of the European Union, we Europeans needed more than 100 years of civil wars, to understand the war is useless, to understand that war leads nowhere just to destruction of cities, infrastructures and of course people. Don’t do the same think, don’t do the same mistake we Europeans made, you don’t need 100 years fighting, you have I think enough fighting.

Thank you very much for being here, thank you Federica for your engagement, we keep working, unfortunately I will have to travel for the other talks, but you know I will be following very closely.

Watch the complete remarks by Special Representative of the Secretary General for Libya, Bernardino Leon in this video from EU Commission Audiovisual Services website: