Western governments have voiced serious concern that Libya's deepening divisions can only play into the hands of the jihadists
Limassol (Cyprus) (AFP) - Mediterranean foreign ministers said Friday that European countries could take unspecified "measures" against parties in Libya who block a UN-backed unity government initiative for the war-torn nation.
France, meanwhile, has said it would support economic sanctions for those who "knowingly" scupper Libya's political process.
Libya has had rival parliaments and governments since 2014, after an Islamist-led militia alliance overran Tripoli and forced the internationally recognised administration to flee to the remote east of the oil-rich nation.
Extremists including the Islamic State group have exploited the chaos, raising fears of jihadists using the Libyan coast as a launchpad to infiltrate Europe and launch attacks.
Foreign ministers from Mediterranean countries belonging to the so-called "Med Group" warned that the EU could take action against anyone blocking a unity government.
"Measures could be taken against those held accountable as spoilers of such a solution," the ministers said in a joint statement after meeting in the Cypriot resort of Limassol, without elaborating.
"A government of national accord would be a crucial partner in tackling effectively the threats and challenges to Libya, including terrorism, particularly considering the growing presence of (IS) and other extremist groups," they added.
Members of Libya's recognised parliament said this week they had been intimidated from voting in favour of a unity government.
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met Thursday with the UN's Libya envoy Martin Kobler and Libyan prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj, his ministry said.
Ayrault said attempts to derail Libya's political transition were "unacceptable".
"France supports the adoption of sanctions against those who knowingly hinder the political process," he said, quoted in a ministry statement.
Libya was thrown into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Western countries have agreed that military action is needed to dislodge IS in Libya, but world powers want a national unity government installed to request help before formally intervening.
Libya's recognised government denied a report in Le Monde newspaper on Thursday that French special forces were fighting jihadists in the country.
"This is not true. We deny these reports," government spokesman Hatem El-Ouraybi told AFP.
The Med Group called for more action to stem the flow of migrants from Libya and to dismantle "criminal networks" exploiting the political vacuum there.
"A comprehensive response is needed, utilising the full spectrum of tools that the EU has at its disposal," the ministers said.