New York

10 April 2019

Transcript of the Secretary-General’s remarks at UN Security Council Press Stakeout

Today I had the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the situation in Libya.

As you remember, as I was leaving Benghazi and leaving Libya, I said I was deeply concerned and that I had a heavy heart with the possibility of a serious confrontation in and around Tripoli.

Unfortunately, until now that feeling has been entirely confirmed.

But, it is still time to stop.

It is still time for a ceasefire to take place – for a cessation of hostilities to take place and to avoid the worse which would be a dramatic, bloody battle for Tripoli.

It is still time to recognize there is no military solution.

Only political solutions can apply to situations like the one in Libya and I hope it is still time to allow to move ahead with a political process and I want to express my enormous admiration for the work that is courageously being done on the ground by my Special Representative Ghassan Salamé.

On my side, and using our good offices, we will do everything to support these efforts. 

At the same time, I am particularly worried with migrants and refugees that were caught in this terrible situation.

I am happy it was possible for UNHCR [The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] to evacuate the detention camps, but there are terrible concerns in relation to, not only the lives of the Libyans, but also the migrants and refugees in the city and other foreigners in the city and one reason more for us to believe that we absolutely need to stop this fighting.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. I’m Ali Barada from Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper and from France 24. My question for you is that you went in person to meet Mr. Haftar [LNA Commander] in Benghazi.  Did you have the wrong impression about what you were going to face in Benghazi? There were any kind of deception because you were in Tunisia and then you went to Egypt and from there you went to Tripoli and Benghazi. Also, do you feel that Ghassan Salame is still entrusted by the Libyans and by the international community to chart the way ahead to find a political solution for Libya? Thank you.

SG: Well as you know I didn’t meet only Mr. Haftar [LNA Commander]. I met both Mr. Sarraj, Mr. Haftar [LNA Commander], and also the President of the State Council and of the Parliament that is sitting in Dobruk, and it is obvious that my appeal for an offensive not to take place and for the hostilities to stop was not heard. But I think that when one looks at the situation today it is clear that we have a very dangerous situation and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it. On the other hand, I want to say that my Special Representative Ghassan Salamé has been doing an absolutely outstanding job in extremely difficult circumstances and I think that he is entitled to the gratitude of the whole of the international community and I’m sure that the Libyan people will fully recognize that.

Q: So, Mr. Secretary-General, so did you come to the Security Council with a plan or with new ideas because obviously you went to Libya with some ideas and you shared them with the parties there and obviously it was not enough for the parties to reach an agreement or to stop the fight, so did you have new ideas that you shared with the Council? And how did you find the reaction in the Security Council today?

SG: It is for the Security Council to speak in relation to what the Security Council decides. It is very clear for me that we need to restart a serious political dialogue and a serious political negotiation, but it is obvious that that cannot take place without fully stopping hostilities.