The spokesman for the Libyan Navy, Ayoub Qassim said that the European statements regarding the suspension of Operation Sophia are not of the Libyan state’s concern in any means.
Operation Sophia, is scheduled to expire on March 31 unless agreement is reached to have it renewed.
“Operation Sophia is a purely European security operation and the EU countries are the ones to be affected by such decision,” Qassim explained via a press statement quoted by the Libyan Observer.
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini had announced that Operation Sophia would stop at the end of this month if no agreement was reached between the EU countries.
On Monday, March 18, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi announced Italy is evaluating “the extent to which the general balance of Operation Sophia can be safeguarded.” Moavero insisted that “there’s still time” and that “the government will take a position before” the deadline and that “another rollover is one of the possibilities.”
Moavero said the “element of migrant disembarkation is a boulder that is weighing on the conscience of the EU.”
For her part, Mogherini said although she hopes for an agreement on the renewal of Operation Sophia, she doesn’t see “movement in this direction.”
The European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos had said it is up to Italy to decide whether or not to suspend the EU’s naval operation Sophia to combat human trafficking in the Mediterranean.
”It is up to Italians to decide on operation Sophia”, Avramopoulos said, arriving at the last Justice and Home Affairs Council before European elections scheduled in May. ”As you know, Italy is the country with the command of the mission, which has proven to be successful. If there are proposals to improve how it functions, we are here, but it is up to Italy to decide”.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has threatened to obstruct renewal of the programme, citing an unfair burden on Italy to take in refugees who land there.
Germany, which pulled its ships out of the operation in January due to lack of action, wants renewal and reform of the operation, as does France whose President Emmanuel Macron called for closer cooperation between EU nations on asylum seekers. Italy’s decision to close ports to rescue boats has further complicated the matter.