Türkiye questioned the legitimacy, purpose and impartiality of the European Union’s maritime mission off the coast of Libya.
“After the unlawful boarding of a Turkish-flagged commercial vessel without the flag state Türkiye’s consent in November 2020, Türkiye, as a matter of principle, rejects all similar requests,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Twitter.
The remark apparently came as a response to a tweet by EU’s Operation Irini on Monday claiming Ankara denied the request to inspect the ship, MV MATILDE.
The European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Operation (IRINI) was launched in the Mediterranean Sea on March 31, 2020, following the Berlin Conference on Libya to oversee the U.N.’s arms embargo on Libya.
The controversial IRINI has faced several criticisms as it has had no effect on arms shipments by land and air to warlord Khalifa Haftar and his allies.
On Nov. 22, 2020, soldiers from a German frigate working under the EU’s Operation Irini boarded and inspected Roseline A, in a move that drew sharp condemnation from Türkiye. According to the law of the sea, the consent of the flag state must be obtained before personnel may board the ship in order to conduct their search. Despite being warned that Turkey did not give its blessing, the Hamburg Frigate’s soldiers searched the merchant cargo vessel and found that it was carrying humanitarian aid, food and paint.