The EU on Monday slapped sanctions on three companies, including Turkey’s Avrasya Shipping, whose cargo vessel Cirkin was involved in a standoff between France and Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea last June, as well as two Libyan men.
The EU has accused Avrasya Shipping of using the vessel to smuggle weapons to Libya, a claim denied by Ankara, which said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid.
“The EU’s Irini Operation is rewarding [Libyan military strongman Khalifa] Haftar, and punishing the UN-recognized Libyan government,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, referring to the EU’s naval and aerial mission in the eastern Mediterranean to purportedly enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.
Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya, namely the internationally-recognized government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is supported militarily by rebels loyal to Haftar.
Turkey is a patron of the Tripoli-based government, and the rebels are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Russia.
“Overlooking those countries and companies, starting with the UAE, that send weapons from land and air to the putschist Haftar in violation of the (UN Security Council) decisions, while the support provided to the legitimate government… is deemed an embargo violation, is a clear signal that the EU is… biased,” the Turkish ministry said.
The sanctions come as EU leaders are scheduled to discuss a standoff between Turkey and Cyprus on September 24-25, with sanctions being a possibility.
“When effort is being made to decrease the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, taking such a wrong decision is unfortunate,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, referring to the Monday sanctions.