Defense Minister of Turkey criticizes the European mission IRINI in Libya
Turkish Defense Minister, Khulusi Akar, said on Friday that the mission EUNAVFORMED IRINI of the European Union, to monitor the arms embargo to Libya, is not in compliance with the international law and United Nations resolutions, also accusing EU of supporting the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar.The Turkish minister expressed hope that European countries will reconsider the process and consider these problems, stressing that the Government of National Accord (GNA) has not requested such a process. Therefore, for Akar, the EUNAVFORMED IRINI MISSION without the approval of the legitimate government of Libya is illegal.
The spokesman of the European Commission for Foreign Affairs, Peter Stano, has previously answered criticisms to the IRINI mission. Stano explained that the EU does not have a magical solution to the Libyan crisis and that the process is only a contribution to international efforts to ensure the implementation of a United Nations Security Council decision that banned arms supplies to Libya. Previous reports by UN experts had recommended European countries to conduct inspections at sea to control arms trafficking to Libya, including the supply of weapons and explosive material to terrorist groups from Ankara.
The EUNAVFORMED IRINI mission replaces the previous SOPHIA. According to the latest report by the United Nations Security Council, SOPHIA was not able to conduct these inspections at sea because of its inadequate asset. On January 2, the Turkish parliament ratified a memorandum, presented by the presidency, to send Turkish forces into Libya and give them a one-year renewable mandate. Turkey is also accused of recruiting Syrian mercenaries, including minors, to fight in the North African country.
“On April 28 the initial Force Generation Conference ended, therefore OperationIRINI was able to start planning operations at sea with its first assets. Other assetsoffered by Member States will join the Operation in the coming weeks and months”said Admiral Fabio Agostini, the Commander of the EU Operation, who operatesfrom the headquarters located in Rome at the Centocelle Joint Operations Centre.Assets such as the French ship Jean Bart are particularly valuable for the Operationas they have the potential to monitor both the sea lines of communication and theair traffic flow. This double effort is essential for the implementation of theOperation’s mandate in full compliance with the Berlin conference, ensuringimpartiality and conflict sensitivity.
Operation Irini (named after the Greek goddess for “peace”) was planned in a veryshort timeframe and launched on 31 March, following a decision by the Council ofthe European Union. The main task is the implementation of the arms embargo onLibya under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The Operation also hassecondary tasks including monitoring illegal oil trafficking from Libya, contributing tocountering human trafficking and smuggling activities, through air monitoring, andcontributing to the training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy.The Force Commander will be assigned to Italy and Greece every six months alternatively.
The rotation of the Force Commander will take place together with the rotation of the flagship. Initially, the Operation will have three vessels contributed by France, Greece and Italy, and three directly assigned patrol aircrafts from Germany, Luxembourg and Poland, and about the same number of vessels and aircraft in associated support.
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