On November 23rd, tensions between Turkey and its fellow NATO member states, once again, flared up in the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey protested to Germany and the EU after German forces belonging to an EU military mission boarded and tried to search a Turkish cargo ship that they suspected of taking weapons to Libya illegally.
The EU mission in question is IRINI, and it aims to actually enforce the arms embargo set on Libya, which Turkey acts like doesn’t exist.
Soldiers from the frigate Hamburg boarded the Roseline A overnight but withdrew after Turkey raised objections with the EU mission, which had ordered the search, the German Defense Ministry said.
Turkey released footage showing armed men in military uniform marshalling sailors with their hands on their heads on the bridge of what it said was the Roseline A, at sea southwest of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula.
Ankara said the vessel was carrying humanitarian aid and that the Hamburg had violated international law by not waiting for permission from Turkish authorities to board. It summoned the EU, German and Italian ambassadors to hear a protest.
Turkish state outlet Anadolu Agency, also reported that the EU mission was “Greek-led” and that the search was entirely illegal.
“The search reportedly violated international law, which requires a party to obtain the consent of a ship’s flag state before searching a vessel, according to the law of the sea.
Apparently flouting this principle, personnel from the German ship, the Hamburg, landed on the ROSELINA-A in a helicopter, even as the cargo ship’s crew captured the scene on footage.
After blocking the ROSELINA-A’s course towards Misrate port for hours, the troops departed the vessel when they realized it only carried humanitarian supplies, food and paint.
During the search, they opened all the containers on the ship, ignoring warnings that their actions did not have permission from Turkey and were thus illegal.
Turkey reportedly plans to take action before international organizations concerning the incident which also reportedly violated the principle of “freedom of the high seas.””
Germany, however, said it had actually requested permission to board, but hours passed with no reply.
It was standard practice to consider this as implicit permission.
“All procedures were followed correctly,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.
The German Defense Ministry said the soldiers had not found anything suspicious by the time they were ordered off the ship.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the Roseline’s captain had shared information with the Hamburg about his ship’s freight and its course.
“Despite this, at 17:45, armed forces from the Irini Operation boarded the ship and carried out a ‘monitoring’ that lasted long hours,” he said.
“We protest this act, which was carried out by force and without authorization (and) retain the right to seek compensation.”
The 16,000-tonne container ship left the Turkish port of Gemlik near Bursa last week, and was last seen heading southwest towards Libya, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
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