Tunisia has told the Egyptian Embassy in Tunis that it is concerned about the frequent illegal entry of Egyptian sailboats into Tunisian waters, sources from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry have said.
The Tunisian authorities have threatened tougher punishments for detained boat captains, claiming that one sailor, Mohamed Hassan, intentionally hit a Tunisian military vessel trying to intercept him. The authorities claimed that despite the fact that sailors are banned from Tunisia's Gulf of Gabes, violations continue.
Egyptian Ambassador to Tunisia Ahmed Ismail Abdel Moety said the embassy is closely following the cases of both Hassan and Rod al-Farag, whose boats are being held in Sfax and Jarjis ports respectively. Abdel Moety is trying to convince the Tunisian authorities to only impose fines and release both men.
Abdel Moety added that frequent violations by Egyptian vessels has made the embassy’s mission difficult, in particular the refusal of several sailors to obey Tunisian coast guard orders to stop after being intercepted in Tunisian waters.
Abdel Moety also called on Egyptian sailors associations and trade unions to urge their members not to enter Tunisian waters illegally.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm