Turkish President says ready to send troops to back Libya unity government
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
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan