Tensions rise between Turkey and Germany as latter searches a Libya-bound Turkish ship under arms embargo provision

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A recent military check of a Libya-bound Turkish ship carried out by German forces, as part of European Union mission to implement arms embargo in Libya, irked Ankara. Search for weapons soon turned into a diplomatic spat as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, strongly condemned it and summoned envoys of Germany, EU and Italy to Ankara seeking explanation for the “unauthorized” operation.

Expressing its objection towards the incident, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, “We protest this action, which was conducted without authority and with the use of force.” In the defence, Germany’s defence ministry said that the search was carried out in ‘Rosalin-A’ when the authorities did not receive any word from Turkey, after forwarding the request to conduct the vessel’s search. German spokesman said that following the no response from Ankara German marines landed over the Freight ship from a helicopter, being part of IRINI mission.

Mission IRINI was part of the EU military mission launched on March 31, 2020 to enforce UN arms embargo in Libya. The EU ramped up the embargo check,especially after the UN special envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, called it a Joke. Williams said: “The arms embargo has become a become a joke. We all really need to step up here. It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability.”

Turkey slammed the recent check as a targeted move against it vessel, which it added was carrying paint and humanitarian aid. The Rosaline-A’s search by German forces was halted when Turkey refused to give permission for the check. Ankara added that “no forbidden goods were detected”. Erdogan also slammed the EU member nations of violating the international law and using forces against its freighter.

Along with a protesting statement, Turkey also released footage of armed men in military uniform gathering sailors on a side with their hands on their heads, at sea southwest of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula.Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy complained that despite Roseline’s captain giving details about the vessel and its course “at 17:45, armed forces from the Irini Operation boarded the ship and carried out a ‘monitoring’ that lasted long hours.” He added, “We protest this act, which was carried out by force and without authorisation (and) retain the right to seek compensation.”

The incident causes friction between not only Turkey and Germany but also with the EU. The ties between Turkey and European nations have been strained since Ankara lauded its research vessel in the contested eastern Mediterranean waters for energy exploration. The EU’s foreign policy chief has said the oil drilling led caused “watershed moment” with Turkey. Besides, Turkey, which backs internationally recognised government in Libya, has allegedly also provided military support to win over its rival group, backed by Russia.

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