European Union has naval operation in the Mediterranean to help enforce arms embargo, but NATO member Turkey, whose efforts to join the EU are stalled, suspects that it is too one-sided, focusing on the internationally recognized Libyan administration in Tripoli, which Turkey supports.
“The main obstacle to the establishment of peace and stability in Libya today is the systematic violation of the U. N. arms embargo, especially by Turkey, despite commitments made in Berlin ”speaks earlier this year, the French foreign ministry said.
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when the NATO-backed uprising overthrew leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed. The country has since been divided between eastern and western governments, each supported by armed groups and various foreign governments.
The government in Tripoli, led by Fayez Sarraj, is supported not only by Turkey, which sent troops and mercenaries to protect the capital in January, but also Italy and Qatar. Rival forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter, who launched an offensive on Tripoli last year, are taken over by France, Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries.
“Turkey’s support for the government’s national offensive goes directly against efforts to secure a ceasefire, which supports us,” the French ministry said. “This support is compounded by the enemies and unacceptable actions of Turkish naval forces towards NATO allies, which aims to undermine efforts to respect the U. N. arms embargo. ”
“This conduct, like any foreign interference in the Libyan conflict, must stop,” he warned.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is trying to secure NATO’s support for the EU’s naval efforts, but diplomats and officials have said that Turkey is likely to block any such initiative.
Borrell, who will take part in a video session with NATO defense ministers on Thursday, said he hopes the EU and NATO “cooperation agreement can be put in place” soon, because that helping to enforce the arms embargo is in the security interests of both organizations.
Asked on Wednesday that the answer could be, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are looking for possible, possible support for cooperation, but no decision has been made. There is dialogue, contacts, responding to what we are talking about. ”
Borrell highlighted some of the challenges the EU’s naval operation faces. He said staff last week tried to contact a Tanzanian “suspect” flying the flag of a cargo ship that was escorted by two Turkish warships. He said the ship refused to respond, but his Turkish escorts said the cargo was for medical material bound for Libya.
The operation tried to verify the information with the Turks and the Tanzanian authorities, and reported the incident to the United Nations, but there was nothing more it could do, he said.