Turkey slams EU sanctions on Turkish firm for Libya arms smuggling

Turkey said the European Union’s decision on Monday to sanctions a Turkish firm accused of breaking a U.N. arms embargo on Libya was biased and undercut the legal standing of the government in Tripoli.

The EU has frozen the assets of Avrasya Shipping, which was accused of using its cargo ship, the Çirkin, to smuggle weapons into Libya. Turkey has denied the charges on behalf of the company and maintains that the ship was carrying humanitarian aid.

The Tanzanian-flagged Çirkin became embroiled in an incident on June 10 between its Turkish Navy escort and a French frigate on a NATO mission to enforce the embargo on the war-torn country. France said its frigate was harassed by the escort’s targeting radar.

“The EU’s Operation Irini is rewarding (Libyan rebel General Khalifa) Haftar and punishing the U.N.-recognised Libyan Government,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Turkey provides military and political support for Libya’s Government of National Accord in a conflict with Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, which is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), among other countries.

“Deeming our country's aid to the legitimate government an embargo violation, while overlooking those countries and companies, starting with the UAE, that send weapons from land and air to the putschist Haftar in violation of the (United Nations Security Council) resolutions, is a clear indication that the EU is biased,” the Turkish ministry said.

“With this attitude, it seems that the EU insists on maintaining its double-standard position that it set out with Operation Irini, which rewards the aggressor rather than taking a stand in favour of international legitimacy.”

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