France Escalates Turkey Dispute by Quitting NATO Naval Mission

France Escalates Turkey Dispute by Quitting NATO Naval Mission

An incident in the Mediterranean leads to a serious crisis between NATO partners Turkey and France.

The encounter of the French frigate with Turkish warships in the Mediterranean has led to a serious crisis between the two NATO members. Turkey accuses France of deliberate hoax. Neither the EU nor NATO has been told the truth, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavosoglu during his stay in Berlin. He apologizes and accuses France of “hostility to Turkey”.

France, in turn, insists on its position. Defense Minister Florence Parly once again stressed to MEPs that it was unacceptable that an allied person would try to threaten those who violated the rules.

The incident that occurred is more than three weeks ago. On June 10, according to information from Paris, a Turkish warship had repeatedly directed its fire control radar at a French frigate – a measure that usually takes place shortly before a fire. France rated this as “extremely aggressive” and raised the incident at the NATO Defense Ministers’ meeting.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg then had the incident investigated by the NATO military authorities – also because the French frigate was underway as part of the NATO “Sea Guardian” maritime surveillance mission. France considers the resulting report to be unsatisfactory and has announced that it will no longer participate in “Sea Guardian”.

The now boiled-up dispute between the two countries is also about the civil war in Libya. The background to the June incident is that the French frigate wanted to control a cargo ship suspected of being used for Turkish arms deliveries to Libya. France has long accused Turkey of supplying arms to the Libyan unity government.

Turkey, in turn, claims that France – along with a number of other countries – is supporting the insurgent General Khalifa Haftar with the delivery of weapons. Both would be violations of the UN arms embargo. French President Emmanuel Macron rejects allegations of Haftar’s support. The Turkish Foreign Minister said that his country supports the legitimate government of Libya.

The federal government is neutral in the conflict. Chancellor Angela Merkel described the incident on Wednesday in the Bundestag as very serious. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called after his meeting with Cavusoglu to resolve such problems in dialogue through the world. “I think it is extremely important that relations between France and Turkey are constructive.”

Macron, on the other hand, repeated its remarks from the past year, which attracted worldwide attention last week. What happened last is unacceptable and one of the most beautiful demonstrations for the “brain death of NATO”, he said at a press conference.

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