During the “NATO Talk around the Brandenburg Tor” conference on 12 November, Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Alliance, said that the military operation in Libya was initiated by a number of European nations, rather than by the bloc.
“The Libya operation was not a NATO operation in the beginning; it was a European-initiated operation, not so much by Germany, but by France and the UK. […] When we met in Paris and made the final decision, NATO was not at the table, NATO was not there. It was after some time that we needed the command structure, the capabilities of NATO and the US,” Stoltenberg said at the “NATO Talk around the Brandenburg Tor” conference in Berlin.
In February 2011, mass protests against Libya’s long-service leader Muammar Gaddafi erupted, later evolving in an armed conflict between rebels and government forces.
A month later, a coalition of Western states, led by France, the UK and the US, launched an intervention in Libya, carrying out airstrikes against government forces.
As the country de facto doesn’t exist as a unified state, with rival government failing to reach agreement on institutions and elections, the political vacuum has allowed multiple terror organisations to expand their operations.
The crisis also saw a mass exodus of refugees, who chose to flee for Europe, thus triggering the worst migration crisis on the European continent.
On European Defence
Stoltenberg also said that he welcomed the European Union’s efforts on defence that could boost NATO’s strength, but at the same time warned against duplicating the alliance and putting relations with the United States in peril.
“More European efforts on defence is great but it should never undermine the strength of the transatlantic bond. […]Two World Wars and the Cold War taught us the importance of doing things together. The reality is that we need one strong and capable command structure, we can’t divide those resources in two,” he elaborated.
Stoltenberg’s remarks came on the heels of French President Emmanuel Macron’s radio interview, in which he suggested that EU nations should create a “true European army” to protect themselves “with respect to China, Russia and even the United States".