ISTANBUL: On Monday, Turkey accused the German navy of undertaking a ‘unauthorised’ search of a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel in an attempt to impose an arms embargo on Libya by the United Nations.
But Operation Irini of the European Union, charged with preventing weapons exports to the struggling North African region, said it had made a good faith” attempt to obtain the permission of Turkey for the inspection and aborted it as soon as Ankara made known its objections.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry reported that on Sunday evening off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus Peninsula, Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and inspected the Roseline A commercial vessel without authorization.
Footage shot by the crew of the vessel and shown repeatedly on Turkish television revealed a confrontation between members of the crew and armed German soldiers who landed by helicopter on the ship.
The vessel was bringing paint and humanitarian supplies to the Libyan port of Misrata, the Turkish foreign ministry reported.
This action was carried out with neither our country’s approval as the flag state nor the captain of the ship,” the Turkish ministry said.”
‘I completely condemn this unconstitutional intervention,’ said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.
On Monday, Ankara summoned the EU and Italian ambassadors and the charge d’affaires of the German embassy to the Foreign Ministry and transmitted a diplomatic note opposing the “unauthorised” inspection, the Foreign Ministry said. The ministry claimed in the note that the operation was against international law,” adding that Turkey had reserved its right to compensation.
But both the European command of the mission and officials in Berlin said that only after the German soldiers had left the vessel did Turkey lift its objections.
“Everything went exactly according to protocol,” a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said.
In a tweet, Operation Irini said it had “made efforts in good faith to seek (Turkey’s) consent.”
“When (Turkey) made it clear that it had refused permission to inspect the vessel, Operation Irini suspended the activities during which no evidence of illegal material had been found,” it added.
Operation Irini’s official website states that when performing so-called “friendly approaches,” the mission retains the right to board ships without permission. Since the 2011 Nato-backed rebellion that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Qadhafi, Libya has undergone almost a decade of terror.
Turkey supports the UN-recognized Government of the National Accord (GNA) in western Libya and sees the EU mission as skewed, sponsored by the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia and France, in favour of the eastern command.