The Turkish Foreign Ministry late Monday summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Italy and the European Union to protest against the illegal interception of Turkish vessels bound for Libya during the EU-led Operation Irini in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“These countries have sent diplomatic notes. In that note, it is affirmed that the incident violates international law and that our right to compensation is protected,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
“Operation Irini is a side operation. It is an operation that aims to punish the legitimate Libyan government and does not inspect weapons supplies to rebel General Khalifa Haftar, and is engaging in arbitrary practices,” Aksoy previously emphasized.
A German frigate participating in the EU-led Operation Irini unlawfully stopped and searched a Turkish commercial cargo ship carrying food and paint supplies to Libya in the Eastern Mediterranean, security sources said.
Footage obtained from the interception shows armed soldiers boarding the ship in a manner that resembles a counterterrorism operation.
Confirming a report in Der Spiegel news magazine, a German spokesman said the Hamburg frigate had intercepted ROSELINE A about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sunday evening.
Aksoy noted that the Turkish ship’s captain cooperated with Operation Irini’s forces and shared extensive information about the ship’s cargo and navigation but faced hours of inspection despite their cooperation.
“All staff were detained and the captain was held at gunpoint by soldiers during the questioning,” said Aksoy. He added that the search was carried out without the approval of the ship’s country of origin.
He went on to note that the intervention only ended after Turkey balked at the unlawful search.
Aksoy strongly condemns the search of the Turkish commercial vessel and the treatment of its staff as criminals.
He underlined that interception in international waters requires flag state approval and that UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions do not abolish this obligation.
Aksoy also said the European mission had adopted a double standard against the legitimate government in Libya and was specifically targeting commercial ships bound for Libya from Turkey.