In what was seen as an attempt to push the narrative of Athens fueling tensions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Greece for the attempted search by German marines of a Libya-bound Turkish ship for weapons earlier this week.
Erdogan stressed in a speech on Wednesday to his party’s parliamentary group that “the captain of the ship that conducted the operation is a Greek.”
He said the Turkish ship’s crew was harassed but avoided referring to the German marines or the Italian commander of the European Union’s Operation IRINI, whose mission is to enforce the United Nations Libya arms embargo.
“Despite the provocations of Greece and the Greek-Cypriot Administration [Cyprus] on the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean, we behaved with patience and composure. Unfortunately, despite our patient and calm demeanor, they recently attacked our merchant ship carrying humanitarian aid to Libya... This is not in line with international law of the sea,” he said.
The narrative of Greece being behind the search of the Turkish ship was also pushed by pro-government Turkish media on Wednesday, with the Yeni Safak newspaper saying, “Because the commander of the invasion was Greek, retaliation against Greek merchant ships in the Eastern Mediterranean is being considered as a possibility.”
The German soldiers boarded and searched the Rosaline A freighter because of suspicions it was smuggling weapons to Libya. The German Defense Ministry said the search was ended when word came from Turkey that it refused permission and that “no forbidden goods were detected.”
“Everything went exactly according to protocol,” a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.