Turkey summons EU, Germany and Italy envoys over searching cargo ship headed to Libya - report

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned ambassadors of the European Union (EU), Germany and Italy on Monday after a German attempt to search a Turkish cargo ship for a suspected arms shipment to Libya, Turkish news network Habertürk reported.

The EU mission reportedly searched the Turkish cargo ship due to the suspicion of carrying weapons to Libya, Der Spiegel reported on Monday, citing the German defence ministry.

German soldiers from the EU initiative to enforce a U.N. arms embargo on Libya, dubbed Operation Irini, boarded the Turkish ship, but had to halt searching and withdraw after Turkey protested to the EU mission, Der Spiegel said.

German soldiers had not found anything suspicious until they left the ship, it said.

"Irini is a biased operation. It is an operation that does not inspect arms shipments to the putschist Haftar, acting arbitrarily and aimed at punishing the legitimate Government of Libya.," spokesperson Hami Aksoy of Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Aksoy said Turkey "deeply regret[s] that our vessel, which as became apparent has not violated the arms embargo, was withheld from her route for hours under severe weather conditions and that during the inspection the crew were treated as if they were criminals" in a statement.

Aksoy added that Turkey "protests" what it called the "unauthorized and forceful act." 

Yusuf Erim, a foreign policy analyst at Turkish state broadcaster TRT World, said the ship was searched without Turkey's permission.

Turkey said its cargo ship was carrying humanitarian aid, and that the search team had violated international law by not waiting for permission from Turkey.

Libya is split between the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and the Tobruk government, led by General Khalifa Haftar, the de facto ruler of eastern Libya and head of the Libyan National Army (LNA). 

Turkey has been providing military assistance to the GNA and the U.N. has accused Ankara of "routinely and sometimes blatantly" violating the arms embargo on the oil rich North African country.

Cihat Yaycı, the architect of Turkey's Blue Homeland doctrine, which lays claim to expansive territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea, stated that German frigate attacked the land of the Republic of Turkey.

Yaycı resigned in May after he was removed from the key post of active duty rear admiral and the naval chief of staff by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.