Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu criticised Germany for taking part in a “biased” European Union initiative to enforce a United Nations arms embargo on Libya, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.
The EU naval mission, dubbed Operation Irini, was launched on April 1 to support the Libya arms embargo.
“Irini is a biased operation … Germany is the host of the Berlin conference; therefore it needs to be neutral and objective,” said Cavuşoğlu, after meetings with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo.
In January, Germany hosted an international conference on the Libyan conflict in Berlin, during which several countries agreed to uphold an arms embargo.
Cavuşoğlu said that Germany’s participation in Operation Irini would make the Berlin conference “illegitimate”.
“If it (Germany) takes part in a biased operation, it will lose its impartiality,” Turkey’s top diplomat said, adding Berlin’s involvement makes the situation in Libya “more complicated”.
Turkey maintains Operation Irini focuses too much on the Ankara-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli but not the eastern-based rebel forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by France, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, among others.
Cavuşoğlu repeated the criticism on Thursday.
“Has there been any criticism about Haftar and his supporters from the Irini operation? No. Because it is an operation that supports Haftar and his supporters. The EU is a tool for this and some EU countries have very serious concerns about it,” he said.
Several incidents have been reported between Turkish naval convoys suspected of shipping arms to Libya and European nations enforcing the embargo.
In June, CNN Greece reported an incident in which a Greek frigate from Operation Irini approached a Turkish cargo ship near Crete, but was turned around by the vessel’s Turkish military escort.
In the same month, NATO ally France accused Turkish warships escorting a cargo ship bound for Libya of aggressive actions towards a French frigate on a NATO mission also enforcing the embargo.