By Tulay Karadeniz
ANKARA, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Turkey’s special envoy to Libya
said on Wednesday that Turkish Airlines would resume flights to
the eastern Libyan city of Misrata next week, the first foreign
carrier to fly to the country since fighting there worsened in
Three years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is
in chaos, with Islamists and other armed groups feuding for
territory and power and the government unable to impose control.
Turkey’s national carrier (THY), which is majority owned by
the state, will initially operate a daily flight to Misrata,
200km to the east of Tripoli from Istanbul, starting on October
27, the envoy Emrullah Isler said.
The airline is also considering the security and logistical
possibilities for routes to the eastern cities Tobruk and Bayda,
Isler said on his return from Libya on Tuesday night.
Turkey is one of Libya’s biggest business partners and has
maintained strong diplomatic ties with successive governments
since Gaddafi’s fall.
Tripoli’s main airport, which was badly damaged as fighters
battled for its control, is not operational. More than 20
civilian aircraft were damaged or destroyed at the airport.
Libyan airlines use a military base to fly to Tripoli.
The capital was seized in August by an armed group from
Misrata, forcing the government to flee to Bayda and the elected
parliament to move to Tobruk near the Egyptian border.
Tripoli’s new rulers proclaimed their own government and
formed a parliament, neither of which have been internationally
However, on his trip to Libya Isler met with the
Tripoli-based, self-declared prime minister, Omar al-Hasi, the
first publicly known diplomatic meeting with a foreign
Last month, the United Nations started dialogue in an effort
to find a solution to the oil-rich desert nation’s mounting
Isler said Turkey was prepared to play a role.
“We as Turkey are ready to contribute to the dialogue
process. For the dialogue to proceed healthily clashes must
stop,” he said.
Western powers and Libya’s neighbours worry the country is
drifting towards becoming a failed state, and that unrest could
spark a full-blown civil war.
(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing
by Jonny Hogg and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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