An EU operation that stopped a Turkish ship on Sunday supposedly to enforce a UN arms embargo was flawed from the start, according to Turkey’s national defense minister.
"Operation Irini was stillborn. It has lacked a solid basis in terms of international law since the beginning," Hulusi Akar told reporters at the Turkish parliament in the capital Ankara Tuesday.
The operation’s implementation has been problematic since the beginning, he said.
He said that the EU should have asked Libya's UN-recognized government for permission before launching the operation this March.
Under the operation, a German frigate on Sunday illegally stopped and searched a private Turkish-flagged ship carrying humanitarian aid to Libya, drawing condemnations from Turkish leaders.
Turkey has long stated that that the arms embargo is enforced in a manner biased to warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The Turkish ship was only carrying paint, paint materials, and humanitarian aid to Libya's port of Misrata, and did not violate the UN arms embargo on the country, said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
The operation officially announced that their search of the ship had turned up nothing illegal.
Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
A new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have so far failed, largely due to attacks by Haftar.