Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Wednesday criticized the European Union’s decision to launch a maritime effort focused on enforcing the UN arms embargo around Libya, accusing the bloc of interfering in the region, The Associated Press reported.
Erdoğan also hailed a decision by Libya’s UN-supported government — which he backs militarily — to withdraw from talks with rivals, following an attack on Tuesday on the seaport of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
EU foreign ministers agreed earlier this week to end Operation Sophia, the bloc’s naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, they will concentrate on implementing the UN arms embargo around Libya, which is routinely being flouted.
Operation Sophia was set up in 2015 as tens of thousands of migrants headed across the sea from North Africa to Europe. Its aim was to crack down on migrant smugglers but also to enforce the arms embargo in place since 2011. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said several European countries had offered to take part in the new operation.
“I want to specifically mention that the EU does not have the right to make any decision concerning Libya,” Erdoğan said in a speech to legislators from his ruling party in parliament. “The EU is trying to take charge of the situation and interfere.”
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.