ANKARA (Reuters) – Ankara is ready to retaliate if a European Union embargo on Turkish shipping firms is imposed by a European Council meeting on Friday over the detention of a Turkish engineer in Libya, a spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Last month, EU partners imposed limits on European-registered vessels headed to the North African country. They include Europe’s biggest shipping company, Navantia, owned by Dubai state-owned shipping company DP World, and Turkish state-owned ship operator Koc Holding.
EU states said Friday they would begin a no-fly zone over Libya with a European naval task force, just as they have done in the past. Turkey has never fought a war in the region.
“What is actually about now is to implement and implement with diligence and fidelity the sanctions that European states have imposed on our companies, which are meant to prohibit them from doing business with the Libyan people and interests,” Mahmut Ozturk told an official news conference.
“What they want us to do … will be the first thing,” he said, adding Turkey hoped European states would take collective action to address the lack of international movement to the eastern coast and put pressure on the North African state.
Ozturk said Turkey would continue to send military vessels to the region to monitor other EU countries.
“We want a normal environment, a world in which European firms are not affected but customers are and how they are affected,” he said.
“A human right situation in the world like that, which has not existed in the last five decades or so,” Ozturk said, referring to a humanitarian crisis in Libya.“We see how these sanctions, if put in place, are very, very prejudicial to our companies, which are only following our companies’ interests.”