Turkey says the European Union (EU) has acted with “bias” by imposing sanctions on a Turkish firm over its alleged violation of a United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Libya.
The EU on Sept. 21 slapped sanctions on three companies, including Turkey’s Avrasya Shipping, whose cargo vessel Cirkin was involved in a stand off between France and Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea last June, as well as two Libyan men.
The EU has accused Avrasya Shipping of using the vessel to smuggle weapons to Libya, a claim denied by Ankara, which said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid.
“The EU’s Irini Operation is rewarding [Libyan military strongman Khalifa] Haftar, and punishing the UN-recognized Libyan government,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Sept. 22, referring to the EU’s naval and aerial mission in the eastern Mediterranean to purportedly enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.
Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya, namely the internationally-recognized government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is supported militarily by rebels loyal to Haftar.
Turkey is a patron of the Tripoli-based government, and the rebels are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Russia.
“Overlooking those countries and companies, starting with the UAE, that send weapons from land and air to the putschist Haftar in violation of the (UN Security Council) decisions, while the support provided to the legitimate government … is deemed an embargo violation, is a clear signal that the EU is … biased,” the Turkish ministry said.
The sanctions come as EU leaders were set to discuss in late September a standoff between Turkey and Cyprus with sanctions being a possibility.
“When effort is being made to decrease the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, taking such a wrong decision is unfortunate,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, referring to the Sept. 21 sanctions.
Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus have been locked in a dispute over drilling rights in the Mediterranean.
Tensions have partially eased in recent days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara withdrew a seismic research vessel from the disputed waters in the sea to allow for diplomacy with Greece. Erdogan said, however, that the ship would return after a period of maintenance. (PressTV.com)