The dispute between France and Turkey in Libya continues

On Monday, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian released an interview to ‘Le Monde’ newspaper where he chided Turkey for purchasing Russian S-400 air defense systems, interference in the Libyan armed conflict, as well as alleged attempts to use illegal migration as a tool to blackmail the European Union. The statement reopened the diplomatic ‘dispute’with Ankara, led by the Libyan crisis. The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday pushed back against criticism of Turkish foreign policy on Libya by Le Drian, saying that the top French diplomat is only trying to conceal France’s own dire situation caused by corona virus pandemic (COVID-19).

In a written response to a journalist’s question, the spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Hamis Aksavi, indicated that the French Foreign Minister who attacked Ankara, criticizing Erdogan’s policy on Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, “is trying to cover up the desperate situation that France is facing due to the coronavirus crisis. It appears that the help extended by Turkey during these dark times as a true friend has created discomfort in France who could not help its European neighbours during their most difficult days”.

In his response to Le Dian’s interview, Aksoy accused France of “supporting terrorist organizations in Syria” and “inciting anti-legitimate forces in Libya”, referring to French support to the Libyan National Army (LNA), the armed forces led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar. “France believes that the only solution to the crisis in Libya is military”. Affirmed the Turkish spokesman, adding: “Our recommendation to France is to focus primarily on maintaining the health of the French and European people, and relieving their wounds in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. French Government, by pulling away from its ambition for competition, must give up seeing Turkey as a threat for Europe’s welfare and security”.

France is preventing of alleviating the pain of the Libyan people through the support of the army commander-in-chief, field marshal Khalifa Haftar, stressing that this support is incompatible with Resolution no. 2259 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The Turkish official concluded, fail to recall that Erdogan sent thousands of foreign fighters in Libya also linked to terrorist groups from Syria. Despite the EU Council repeatedly rejected the two Memorandum of Understanding between Ankara and Tripoli Government, at least five warships were sent by Erdogan in front the Libyan coasts in the last two months in an attempt to change the war’s development.

The French minister also explicitly accused Turkey of “transporting Syrian mercenaries to participate in the war in Libya”, together with ships and drones in the Gulf of Misurata, in the Western region of Libya. Le Drian concluded questioning about the meaning of Turkey’s presence in NATO and its performance when it chooses to buy Russian-made air defense systems, referring to its purchase of advanced Air Defense systems Russian S-400, instead of American Patriot batteries. In the last months Turkey’s relationship with the Western European countries has soured due to a lack of agreement on multiple issues of global politics, including mass migration to Europe, the solutions for conflicts in Syria and Libya, and the status of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

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