Turk­ish Pres­i­dent says ready to send troops to back Libya unity gov­ern­ment

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Ankara, Turkey - Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Tues­day he was ready to send troops to Libya if re­quested by the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment in Tripoli.

“On the is­sue of send­ing sol­diers... If Libya makes such a re­quest from us, we can send our per­son­nel there, es­pe­cially af­ter strik­ing the mil­i­tary se­cu­rity agree­ment,” he said in a tele­vised ap­pear­ance.

Turkey signed a mil­i­tary agree­ment last month with Libya’s Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Ac­cord, led by Prime Min­is­ter

Fayez al Sar­raj. It came af­ter me­dia re­ports that Rus­sia had sent 200 mer­ce­nar­ies to sup­port Libya’s mil­i­tary strong­man Khal­ifa Haf­tar, who is seek­ing to un­seat the Tripoli-based gov­ern­ment.

Rus­sia has de­nied the re­ports, but Er­do­gan said, “There is a se­cu­rity com­pany from Rus­sia (in Libya) called Wag­ner. This com­pany sent its se­cu­rity staff there.”

The Wag­ner Group is a shad­owy pri­vate se­cu­rity firm and thou­sands of its se­cu­rity con­trac­tors are be­lieved to be in for­eign con­flicts from Syria to

Ukraine to the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic.

At the same time as the mil­i­tary deal, Turkey also signed a con­tro­ver­sial mar­itime ju­ris­dic­tion agree­ment with Sar­raj, giv­ing sweep­ing rights for Turkey to ex­plore for oil in the Mediter­ranean.

“With the new line drawn (by the mar­itime agree­ment), we will take steps to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of Libya, Turkey and the TRNC (Turk­ish Re­pub­lic of North­ern Cyprus). This is in line with in­ter­na­tional law,” he said.

The deal has been staunchly op­posed by Greece, Cyprus and their Euro­pean part­ners which says it vi­o­lates the is­lands' mar­itime rights.

Er­do­gan on Mon­day said

Turkey and Libya could hold joint ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties in the eastern Mediter­ranean.

Such a move would likely fur­ther anger Greece which has crit­i­cised the Libya-Turkey agree­ment as a vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional mar­itime law and an in­fringe­ment on Greek is­lands’ right to mar­itime bound­aries.

"With this agree­ment, we have in­creased the ter­ri­tory over which we have au­thor­ity to the max­i­mum level. We can con­duct joint ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties,” Er­do­gan said in an in­ter­view with state TRT broad­caster.

He said Turkey would ob­tain an­other drilling ship for the eastern Mediter­ranean, adding that Ankara could en­large ex­plo­ration ef­forts to the Black Sea and even in­ter­na­tional wa­ters.

Turkey al­ready has ships search­ing for oil and gas off Cyprus, which has also fu­elled ten­sion with the is­land and the Euro­pean Union.

If Libya makes such a re­quest from us, we can send our per­son­nel there

(AFP)

Turkey's Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan

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