France-Turkey tensions mount just after NATO naval incident – Reuters India

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PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – For France, it was the remaining straw. For Turkey, it was a misunderstanding. For NATO, it could be a turning place.

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FILE Photo: French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan right before a bilateral assembly on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Firm (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018. Ludovic Marin/Pool through REUTERS

The incident unfolded immediately in the japanese Mediterranean on June ten, when a French frigate under NATO command tried using to inspect a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship suspected of smuggling arms to Libya in violation of a U.N. embargo.

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The French armed forces ministry, talking on behalf of the governing administration, explained the frigate was harassed by 3 Turkish navy vessels escorting the cargo ship. A Turkish ship flashed its radar lights and its crew place on bulletproof vests and stood driving their light weapons, it reported.

Turkey disputes this. It denies trafficking arms to Libya and claims the cargo ship, the Cirkin, was carrying humanitarian aid. It has accused the French navy of aggression.

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Turkey’s ambassador to France, Ismail Hakkı Musa, stated on July one the 3 Turkish warships ended up aiding NATO implement the U.N. arms embargo.

NATO purchased an investigation, but its contents are labeled and NATO has not commented on its result. Two European diplomats informed Reuters that France sent a letter to NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg in early July expressing the report did not “correctly build the info.”

The U.S. Pentagon declined to remark on the incident.

For France, the incident highlights what many NATO allies see as President Tayyip Erdogan’s tendency to act towards the Western alliance’s pursuits and values.


Right after a series of disagreements, from Turkey’s obtain of weapons from Russia to gasoline drilling operations near Cyprus, France concluded that suspicions of Turkish arms smuggling to Libya had been as well major to dismiss, four NATO diplomats and officials informed Reuters.

France has suspended its participation in NATO’s Mediterranean mission, Sea Guardian, rather featuring its property to a European Union mission that is upholding the U.N. arms embargo but does not entail Turkish ships, diplomats explained.

“What do you do when you have a NATO surveillance mission … and a single of those people in the alliance is the just one doing the trafficking, even though indicating it is utilizing the (U.N.)embargo?” mentioned an official from France’s armed forces ministry, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The United States, pissed off by Turkey’s acquire of Russian S-400 missiles and its armed service operations in Syria, has been looking for to tranquil the tensions in NATO, the diplomats claimed.

Previous October, U.S. Secretary of Protection Mark Esper claimed Turkey was “going in the mistaken direction”. Whilst U.S. President Donald Trump enjoys a near marriage with Erdogan, he urged Turkey in May to enable de-escalate the Libyan conflict.

The Pentagon “strives to maintain our relationship with Turkey while encouraging the Turkish authorities to pursue extra constructive policies with regards to the S-400 and other regions of disagreement,” mentioned U.S. Military Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman.

FRENCH Calls for

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly informed the European Parliament on July 2 that NATO must make Ankara realise it are not able to “violate” NATO policies. But French diplomats also say Paris is not looking to expel Turkey, and NATO has no official system to punish or expel associates.

Still, NATO could threaten to clear away belongings from Turkey, such as a radar, Patriot missiles or NATO AWACS aircraft.

French Overseas Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian needs EU overseas ministers to think about new sanctions on Ankara during a online video assembly on July thirteen.

“The most important difficulty for Europe is Russia. The ambivalence of Turkey, with a person foot in each and every camp, is the troubling issue,” explained Marc Pierini, a previous EU ambassador to Turkey with the Carnegie Europe feel tank.

Turkey has the second-largest navy in NATO and gives the alliance a strategic existence, notably on the Black and Mediterranean seas.

“Imagine NATO without the need of Turkey! You would have no NATO,” ambassador Musa stated.

France created four concrete needs of NATO in its July letter to Stoltenberg, the contents of which were laid out to Reuters.

It would like all thirty allies to reaffirm motivation to respecting the U.N. arms embargo on Libya, to make sure NATO signals are not used for the duration of countrywide missions, to strengthen coordination among the NATO and EU missions in the Mediterranean, and to stay clear of identical incidents in the future.

At the very last NATO defence ministers’ assembly in late June, by way of video link, eight nations around the world which include Germany, Italy and Spain backed trying to get a more cooperative strategy from Turkey.

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French diplomats cite Turkey signing off on a NATO defence system for the Baltics and Poland late past thirty day period, following keeping it up for months, as a to start with indicator of results.

Still there is a risk of a extensive-term rift at NATO if Erdogan does not alter class, analysts say.

“Turkey considers itself massive plenty of now to be independent from all sides,” Pierini claimed.

Extra reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Enhancing by Frances Kerry and Timothy Heritage

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