Turkey is currently training the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept refugee and migrant boats en route to Europe.
According to the British newspaper the timesA Turkish naval ship off the coast of the Libyan city of Khoms earlier this month helped rescue a dinghy carrying 97 migrants before handing them over to the Libyan coast guard.
These and similar operations are reportedly part of Turkey’s Libyan Coast Guard and Military Training Program, aimed at enhancing the newly united Libyan armed forces and maintaining a long-term Turkish presence and influence in the country.
Such programs are replacing those by European states such as Italy and agencies such as the Frontex of the European Union, which previously trained the Libyan coast guard and equipped them with patrol vessels.
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It is believed that this represents an expansion of Turkey‘s role in the country’s recent development. By replacing the EU, “the Turks have filled a vacuum,” said the director of the International Study Center in Rome, Gabriele Iacovino, who spoke to the paper.
Earlier this month it was reported that over 600 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, with many drowning off the coast of Libya.
Turkey‘s assumption of responsibility for training the Libyan coastguard and the subsequent withdrawal of Europeans also comes weeks after it was revealed that EU member states’ neglect and pushback of refugees last year killed over 2,000 people.
The paper found that Turkish education exerts an influence on the country that goes far beyond that of the EU countries. Global Initiative analyst Jalel Harchaoui, based in Switzerland, told the newspaper: “A Libyan training given by Ankara is becoming almost a lifelong fan of Turkey … This is politically scary for Europe.”
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