French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of “criminal responsibility” in the conflict in Libya.
This is another round in France’s criticism of Ankara’s support for Libya’s Government of National Accord.
Speaking to reporters yesterday after holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel near Berlin, Macron said that Turkey had “massively re-imported jihadist fighters from Syria” into Libya while increasing its own military presence in the country. He accused Turkey of ignoring the UN arms embargo.
“I think this is a historic and criminal responsibility for a country which claims to be a member of NATO,” said Macron. He added that Turkey’s foreign policy within Libya is “unacceptable” and called on Ankara to “urgently clarify” its position. Turkey does not simply “claim” to be a member of NATO; it actually joined the organisation in 1952.
Indeed, France and Turkey are both key members of the NATO alliance, but have been strongly opposed to each other’s’ positions in Libya and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. While Turkey supports the UN-backed GNA politically and militarily, France has been giving indirect support to the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) under rogue Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.
Following the recent defeat of Haftar’s forces in his campaign to take Tripoli and the role that Turkey played in helping the GNA to defend its territory, France has been particularly strong in its criticism of Ankara’s foreign policy. It is also critical of Turkey’s “foiling” of the joint Greek-Egyptian-Israeli plan to exploit the energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
In mid-June, for example, France expressed its desire for talks within NATO over what it called Turkey’s “aggressive” stance in Libya, and last week the French Foreign Minister called on the EU to discuss its relationship with Turkey based on its actions in Libya. France also accused the Turkish navy of harassing a French naval vessel in the eastern Mediterranean, which Turkey denied.
Ankara hit back against France’s criticism of its role in Libya last week, saying that Macron suffers from an “eclipse of the mind.”