By Sorwar Alam
Turkish officials are investigating a report that a Libyan-bound vessel which departed from Turkey was seized by the Greek Coast Guard due to it allegedly carrying explosives to Libya, Turkey’s Embassy in Tripoli announced Friday.
The embassy also stressed that the ship had permission to transport goods from Turkey to Ethiopia, not to Libya, and that Ankara has been complying scrupulously with United Nations resolutions.
“Relevant officials in the Republic of Turkey have launched the necessary investigation into the report that the Tanzania-flagged cargo vessel Andromeda was seized by the Greek Coast Guard on Jan. 7, 2018 as it was carrying materials used for making explosives from the Mersin and Iskenderun ports of Turkey to Libya,” said an embassy statement.
“According to initial findings, it was informed that the ship would go to Djibouti Port [the country Ethiopia’s sea-transported imports come into] after departing from the [Turkish Mediterranean] Port of Mersin on Nov. 23, 2017, and it was also declared that the vessel carried 419,360 kilograms [924,530 pounds] of ‘dangerous’ materials in 29 full containers,” it added.
The investigation into the documents of the ship found that “there were detonated wick, ANFO, power gel magnum, cable, electric and non-electric capsule and ammonium nitrate solution-type materials on board to be delivered to various firms in Ethiopia,” the statement said.
“The permission deemed necessary under Turkish law for these items to be exported to Ethiopia had been obtained,” it added.
“It has been determined that the ship had been loaded with static tanks, tanker trailers, and overhead static tanks from the port of Iskenderun, which was the ship’s previous stop before the port of Mersin, to be delivered to Yemen and Oman.”
The embassy stated “this preliminary data shows that the exports were done according to procedure and that the materials which departed from Turkey would not be sent to Libya.”
It added that a detailed investigation is ongoing, saying: “We require that the documents captured by the Greek authorities from the ship, as well as the statements of the crew and all other complementary documents and information, be urgently sent to Turkish authorities.”
The embassy is in close contact with the Foreign Ministry of the Libyan Government of National Accord, it said, adding that the information already gathered and to be gathered on the incident is being shared with the Libyan state and the UN.
Turkey has been complying scrupulously with the arms embargo on Libya and cooperating closely with the UN on this issue, said the statement.
The embassy also condemned some unrealistic and irresponsible remarks on the issue in social media while the issue is still under investigation and despite Turkey’s clear stance.
According to Greek media reports, on the other hand, after leaving Turkey at first the ship wanted to go through the Suez Canal in order to reach Ethiopia. But it was unable to enter the channel as it could not pay the toll. When he could not find a port where they could unload the cargo, the Greek ship owner wanted to evaluate a proposal from Libya's city of Misrata. But the property owner refused the company’s recommendation. During the dispute between the ship owner and the property owner, the ship was intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard on suspicion that it was going to Libya. The Greek authorities then seized the ship.