A Turkish warship prevented the European Union naval mission from inspecting an arms embargo on Libya imposed by the United Nations, Arab News reported on Thursday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry vetoed efforts to search two Turkish registered merchant ships by a Greek navy ship as part of EU Naval Force’s Operation Irini, Arab News said, upon suspicion of unlawful transport of arms to the war-torn north African country.
Both ships carried the Turkish flag in the Mediterranean, and were therefore not available for inspection without consent from the ship, its escort, or Turkish authorities directly. The incidents occurred on Sunday and Monday last week, German state-run Deutsche Welle cited the EEAS as saying.
In November, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned ambassadors of the EU, Germany and Italy after a German attempt to search a Turkish cargo ship for a suspected arms shipment to Libya.
The Turkish government doesn’t allow inspections on its vessels because of a fear that Operation Irini may be unilaterally detrimental to the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) that Ankara backs in Libya’s ongoing conflict, Deutsche Welle said.
Turkish authorities consider Operation Irini to be biased that doesn’t inspect arms shipments to Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army is fighting the GNA. They also accuse the EU of acting arbitrarily and punitive against what Ankara considers to be the legitimate government of Libya.
The GNA has control of capital Tripoli, while the Tobruk government under Haftar controls the majority of eastern Libya.
Turkey has been providing military assistance to the GNA, and the United Nations has accused Ankara of “routinely and sometimes blatantly” violating the arms embargo on the oil rich country, according to a November report by the Guardian.
Operation Irini aims to stabilise Libya and support the U.N.-led political peace process. It also intends to prevent oil smuggling.