PARIS – Tensions between France and Turkey are at the highest point seen in several generations, as the two NATO states find themselves on opposing ends of the ongoing conflict in Libya.
France’s defense ministry on June 17th accused a Turkish naval vessel of harassing one of its ships in the Mediterranean, saying its ship was trying to uphold the UN’s arms embargo to Libya, and implying therefore that Turkey was trying to enable the delivery of weapons to the Tripoli-based government. France described the ship’s actions as “extremely aggressive” and “unacceptable by an ally against a NATO ship.”
The two powerful states have resorted to lawfare to gain either an edge or a talking point suitable for their own respective populations. In the recent gambit, France has alleged that the Turkish navy is violating both maritime norms between two states not at war, but more importantly is violating NATO rules. Both countries are members of NATO, while Turkey has found itself at odds with NATO on numerous questions in recent years, and France meanwhile pushes for the formation of a unitary EU military.
On June 25th Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Ankara, using video and radar imagery, “proved” that her ships were not engaged in any illegal activities in the Mediterranean Sea, which French officials had previously pointed out. This was reported on Friday by the Hürriyet Daily News.
Speaking at a ceremony in the Kayseri province, the head of the military department noted that Turkey “shared all the evidence with the military and political leadership of NATO.”
On June 17, the French Ministry of Defense announced that the French ship participating in the NATO mission in the Mediterranean Sea was “aggressively” attacked by Turkey. Ankara has denied the allegations. Following this, Paris called on the North Atlantic Alliance to end its ostrich policy and solve the Turkish problem.
On June 18, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the start of a marine incident investigation .
“We cannot say that there is no Turkish problem in NATO. It exists, it is necessary to talk about it, and it must be solved, ”a source in the French Ministry of Defense quoted Reuters.
Recall that in the Libyan conflict, Turkey supports the Government of National Accord (GNA) under the leadership of Faiz Saraj , who opposes the Libyan National Army (LNA) Marshal Khalifa Haftar. France officially declares its neutrality in the Libyan conflict, but secretly renders attention to the LNA.