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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Turkey Prevents EU Ship From Inspecting Vessel Heading to Libya

Fri 12 Jun 2020 | 02:31 AM
Nawal Sayed

Turkey prevented a European naval mission, on Wednesday, enforcing the Libya arms embargo from checking a suspect freighter off the Libyan coast. The Turkish warship was suspected of violating the United Nations arms embargo to Libya. 

“Ankara should justify its position before the the Security Council,” European sources told the France Press Agency (AFP). 

A spokesman for the European Union foreign minister confirmed that the accident took place in international waters off the coast of Libya.

The EU Spokesperson Peter Stano did not give details, but made it clear that a suspect cargo ship had not been searched.

[caption id="attachment_123651" align="aligncenter" width="976"]Turkey IRINI Mission tracks Turkish ship off the Libyan coast IRINI Mission tracks Turkish ship off the Libyan coast[/caption]

He stated that the IRINI military operation charged with implementing the embargo on average had searched "more than 75 ships" since its launch on March 31.

Stano added that the operation IRINI was assigned to perform this mission in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Security Council last week, noting that “The United Nations should be informed of any incident.”

Hence, the United Nations will definitely will be informed of this incident too.

European sources said that the incident occurred when a Greek navy frigate, taking part in the operation IRINI, wanted to inspect the suspect cargo ship that had sailed from Turkey.

A Turkish military ship called the captain of the Greek ship and ordered him to get away from its way. Meanwhile, another Turkish navy ship appeared in the horizon near the incident site.

The rules of the operation IRINI are very strict about interfering with the search of suspicious ships and it is clear that the captain of the Greek ship had no choice but to allow the suspicious cargo ship to continue its route, the sources said.

Turkey Strongly Backs GNA Forces in Libya

But the United Nations was informed of the incident and its circumstances, and the case will be followed up, according to a European source. Satellite imagery was obtained to justify the intervention of IRINI's ships.

European foreign ministers will discuss the incident during their meeting next Monday via virtually. It may also be tackled at a meeting of NATO and Turkish defense ministers as a member, on June 17-18.

The European Union requested that foreign interference in the conflict in Libya be stopped and mercenaries withdraw their equipment to find a political solution.

Turkey is accused of arming the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, in violation of the United Nations arms embargo to Libya declared in 2011.

[caption id="attachment_101247" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Turkey Turkish troops to arrive in Libya Turkish troops arrive in Libya[/caption]

Ankara has strongly backed the Tripoli-based GNA and dismissed on Wednesday Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire in Libya.

The EU is concerned about Turkish moves and sees it as a threat to its security,” said Al-Arabiya TV channel correspondent in Brussels. 

He noted that Greece stated in its message that Turkey refuses to stop sea exploration.

According to Al-Arabiya correspondent’s sources, the European Union may discuss or approve sanctions against Turkey.

The sources revealed that the European position interacts with Turkish violations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On Tuesday, European Union Commissioner for External Relations Josep Borrell revealed Athena’s intention to make this request.

Borrell added that “Our dialogue is complicated with Turkey and Greece… I requested that the crisis with Ankara be included in the EU foreign ministers meeting Monday.”

Earlier, the European Union promised to punish Turkey for threatening the interests of Cyprus and Greece. Greece formally requested the inclusion of “Turkey’s behavior in the region” on the agenda of the European Union (EU) foreign ministers meeting next Monday.

Libya, once one of the most prosperous nations in Africa, remains fractured and devastated since the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped militant forces oust and kill long-time leader Muammar Gaddhafi.