Turkey slams ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

Berlin. Turkey has summoned the German envoy to Ankara in protest after German marines attempted to search a Libya-bound Turkish ship for weapons. Germany has said Turkey initially voiced no objection to the search.

A diplomatic spat erupted between Turkey and Germany on Monday after Ankara accused German troops of carrying out a search of a freighter as part of the EU’s Irini mission to enforce the UN’s Libya arms embargo.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the envoys to Ankara of Germany, the Eropean Union and Italy to protest the “unauthorized” operation. “We protest this action, which was conducted without authority and with the use of force,” the ministry said.

A spokesman for Germany’s Defense Ministry said that German marines had abseiled onto the vessel, the “Rosaline-A,” from a helicopter after no response was received from Turkey to a request to carry out a search.

Militari impegnati nell’Operazione Irini

The spokesman said the decision to search the vessel had been taken by the Irini mission command in Rome. The search was ended when word came from Turkey that it refused permission, he said, adding that “no forbidden goods were detected” and that the crew had been cooperative. Turkish officials said the “Rosaline-A” was transporting paint and humanitarian aid.

In June, France, which also participates in the Irini mission, said one of its frigates had been “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to near a Turkish civilian ship suspected of helping in arms trafficking to Libya.

The UN arms embargo was imposed amid political turmoil in Libya following the ouster of long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country is currently wracked by a civil conflict pitting an UN-backed government in Tripoli against forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Turkey is the main backer of the Tripoli administration, led by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, and has sent military personnel and equipment to aid it in the conflict. It has previously said Germany’s participation in the Irini arms embargo mission shows that Berlin is not impartial in the conflict, claiming that the embargo benefited Haftar. Haftar has the support of Russia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.