Turkey says France jeopardising NATO security by backing Haftar forces in Libya
Ibrahim Kalın, the Turkish presidential spokesman, said on Saturday that France was risking NATO's security by supporting the rebel General Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), Sabah newspaper reported.
"In Libya, we are supporting the legitimate government and the French government is supporting an illegitimate warlord and jeopardising NATO security, Mediterranean security, North African security and Libya's political stability," Kalın said.
Turkey’s recent military support for the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the battle for the capital Tripoli has seen the GNA turn the tide in its fight against the LNA’s forces.
In recent weeks, Haftar’s LNA has retreated extensively from the northwest of the country after GNA's forces gained the upper hand earlier this month after retaking the capital's airport, all main entrance and exit points to the city, and a string of key towns.
Kalın said that Turkey supports the GNA position that Sirte and Jufra should be evacuated by the LNA forces in order to achieve a "sustainable ceasefire" agreement.
Tensions have recently increased between Turkey and France, who back opposing sides in the Libyan conflict.
NATO is investigating a June 10 incident in the eastern Mediterranean in which France claims Turkish frigates exercised “extreme aggression’’ towards a French warship enforcing a U.N. arms embargo on Libya.
Paris has complained that one of its ships was subjected to radar targeting by Turkish frigates while trying to inspect a cargo vessel believed to be carrying arms to Libya.
"France, for us, is an important NATO ally. It is an important country in Europe. We do not want to have any tensions with France or any other country," Kalın said.