ANKARA, Turkey—Turkey froze Libya’s holdings in a Turkish bank on Monday, a day after it recognized Libya’s rebel leaders as the country’s legitimate representatives and quietly removed its ambassador from Tripoli.
Turkey’s banking regulatory fund said it was temporarily taking hold of Libyan Foreign Bank’s 62 percent shareholding in Turkey’s Arap Turk Bankasi A.S. in line with U.N. Security Council decisions to freeze Libya’s foreign assets.
Since the beginning of the uprising in Libya, the European Union also has frozen the accounts of the country’s state-controlled companies and investment funds, as well as those of key members of the Libyan regime. EU states also said they would not provide the Gadhafi regime with any new funding by buying up oil and gas from the country.
Turkey’s decision regarding the bank shares is the latest indication that its government is breaking ties with Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi, despite close Turkey-Libya trade ties.
Turkey has repeatedly called on Gadhafi to give up power to allow the transition to a more democratic Libyan government. Last month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had offered Gadhafi guarantees in return for him leaving Libya but had not received a response.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the Libyan rebel’s stronghold of Benghazi, recognized the rebel’s National Transitional Council as Libya’s representatives, and promised an additional $200 million in aid. Turkey also formally recalled its ambassador in Tripoli, according to the Official Gazette, an official record of government decisions.
Turkey joins several other countries, including France, Qatar and Italy, in officially recognizing the rebels.
Turkish companies were involved in construction projects worth billions of dollars in Libya before the February outbreak of a Libyan anti-government uprising that has evolved into a civil war. The rebels control Libya’s eastern third, but Gadhafi clings to power in the west, but has been unable to crush pockets of resistance there. As a NATO member, Turkey is supporting the alliance’s airstrikes against targets linked to the Gadhafi regime.