Erdoğan says Turkey may send troops to Libya 

Turkish soldiers may be deployed in Libya, if the UN-recognised government of Libya were to make such a request, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a live televised interview on Monday.

“If Libya were to invite Turkey, of course Turkey would have the right to go to Libya as per the accord,” Erdoğan said. “We are prepared to give all manner of support to Libya.”

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) on April 4 launched an assault to topple the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, led by Fayez al Sarraj, and they have since neared Tripoli with support from Russian forces.

“Haftar is not a national representative of Libya there, Sarraj is,” President Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan said Turkey was utilising its rights born out of international law with the memorandum of understanding signed between Ankara and the GNA.

The deal between Ankara and the GNA redefines Turkey’s maritime borders in the Mediterranean and affects territorial waters of Cyprus and several Greek islands including Crete, drawing objections from Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

“The unilateral steps that they took until now, disregarding international law were foiled,” Erdoğan said, referring to Western countries that have voiced concerns.

There are no problems regarding joint gas explorations in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that was redefined with the memorandum, the president said, adding that international actors couldn’t launch explorations and Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel couldn’t build a pipeline without Turkey’s approval.

“What has been done is absolutely in compliance with international maritime law,” Erdoğan said.

A series of complimentary steps have for the first time put forth Turkey’s whole EEZ in the Mediterranean Sea, and the memorandum with Libya supports Turkey’s legal thesis regarding the country’s maritime authority, he added.

The EU has threatened sanctions on Turkey, and Washington has called Turkey’s move unhelpful and provocative.