Turkey and France: tensions escalate

Turkey and France's involvement over Libya leads to rising tensions between the two states. France accuses Turkey of playing 'a dangerous game', while Turkey rebukes France, holding that France 'wants to divide' the state in order to go back to 'old colonial times'

Turkey and France

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday accused fellow NATO member Turkey of “criminal responsibility” over its involvement in the Libyan conflict in an escalating row with Ankara. Fueling the feud between Turkey and France over actions in Libya.

Rising tensions between Turkey and France

Turkey has increased its military presence “and massively re-imported jihadist fighters from Syria” even after foreign powers agreed earlier this year to end their meddling and respect a UN arms embargo, Macron told reporters.

“I think this is a historic and criminal responsibility for someone who claims to be a member of NATO,” Macron said after holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Meseberg castle near Berlin.

Read more: France wants NATO to take cognizance of ‘Turkey problem’ in Libya

Turkey’s conduct in Libya is “unacceptable to us”, Macron said, adding that the moment had come for Ankara to “urgently clarify” its stance. Ankara supports Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the conflict against rebel strongman Khalifa Haftar. France is suspected by analysts of backing Haftar alongside Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, but insists it is neutral in the conflict.

Paris has been accused of supporting Haftar politically, having previously given him military assistance to fight Islamist militants. France denies backing Haftar but has stopped short of rebuking his allies, while repeatedly criticising Turkey.

Oil-rich Libya was thrown into chaos after veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising. Rival administrations and militias have been vying for power ever since, increasingly drawing in foreign countries and threatening the region’s stability.

The Blame Game Ensues between Turkey & France

Macron last Monday accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of playing a “dangerous game” in the north African country that could no longer be tolerated.

Turkey fired back the following day, saying it was “actually France which is playing a dangerous game in Libya” by supporting military leader Haftar in his campaign to take Tripoli.

Read more: Turkey blames France for instability in Libya

Turkey has criticised France’s remarks on Ankara’s support for the internationally recognised government in Libya, saying Paris aims to restore old colonial rule in the North African country. In an interview on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “France is attempting to divide Libya. It wants to go back to old colonial times.”

Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the government based in Tripoli repel a year-long assault by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar.

Read more: War in Libya and Syria getting out of control!

Tensions have risen over the last year between Macron and Erdogan, notably when the French leader said the lack of NATO response to a unilateral Turkish operation in northern Syria showed the alliance was undergoing “brain death”.

The Ankara-Paris strains soared further this month when France denounced an “extremely aggressive” intervention by Turkish ships against a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean, a claim Ankara dismissed as “groundless”.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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