Malta has partnered up with Turkey in its efforts to bring stability to neighbouring Libya and put a cork in the flow of migrants fleeing North Africa.
Government sources told Times of Malta that the island’s policy on Libya was now in line with that of the Turkish government after months of lengthy discussions and diplomatic efforts.
Turkey, like Malta, backs the internationally recognised Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
This Tripoli-based administration has been locked in a civil war with General Khalifa Haftar’s forces who controls much of Eastern Libya.
During a visit to Turkish capital Ankara this week, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri met his Turkish and Libyan counterparts holding talks on security in the Mediterranean.
Sources said Camilleri is hoping Turkey will support the Tripoli government in its efforts to stifle many of the militia that operate along the western Libyan coast.
While this would help to foster peace in Tripoli, it could also see a drop in irregular migration as most human trafficking in and out of Libya is coordinated by the same militia and organised crime groups.
Camilleri said Malta and Turkey are in advanced talks to develop a collaboration agreement to fight transnational crime.
The agreement would see law enforcement authorities in the two countries collaborate on the prevention and investigation of serious criminal offences such as terrorism, money laundering, and the trafficking of drugs, weapons and migrants.
Camilleri said that Turkey now “considers Malta a strategic country in the Mediterranean” in the fight against people smugglers. The Ankara visit was part of a series of meetings that also focused on a political solution for Libya, based on a ceasefire and national unity.
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo also had a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
In a statement, the government said the two ministers agree that the solution to the Libyan problem requires “political solutions and not warfare”.
The reaction came as Egypt and Turkey edged closer to the possibility of armed conflict over Libya.
Egypt’s parliament on Monday voted to approve a proposed military intervention in support of Haftar’s forces in east Libya.
The United Arab Emirates also supports the Benghazi-based forces of Haftar.