French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron’s hostility towards Turkey seems to be growing by the day.
French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of meddling in the Libyan war and breaking an agreement made at the Berlin conference on Libya.
“I want to express my concerns with regard to the behaviour of Turkey at the moment, which is in complete contradiction with what President Tayyip Erdogan committed to at the Berlin conference,” Macron told a joint news conference.
The response from the Turkish side was swift.
"If France wants to contribute to the implementation of decisions taken at the [Berlin] Conference, it should first stop supporting Haftar," Hami Aksoy, Spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.
Organised by Turkey and Russia, the Berlin conference brought the different stakeholders in the conflict and their backers to the table, with the aim of establishing a ceasefire. But the talks failed when the warlord and militia leader Khalifa Haftar refused to sign a deal for a permanent ceasefire.
“It is no secret that France has supported warlord Khalifa Haftar since 2011 to have the upper hand over the natural resources of Libya," Aksoy said.
The Libyan war is just the latest example of Macron’s hostile approach towards Turkey’s active involvement in regional disputes.
In 2015, different factions from the Libyan opposition came together to unite around the political agreement that gave birth to the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al Sarraj.
The peace process, supported by the United Nations (UN), was not only welcomed by the international community but the UN Security Council as well.
However, the optimistic atmosphere was cut short and Libya quickly became a battlefield for regional powers to impose their own policies and agendas.
Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Greece began to throw their support behind the former CIA-asset warlord Haftar whose militias are waging a war against the internationally-recognised GNA to prevent it from establishing its authority.
On the other hand, Turkey, Qatar and Italy support the UN-recognised government based in Tripoli.
Up until now, France’s position towards the two main factions within Libya has been one of extreme ambiguity. While paying lip service to the UN-backed government, in past years the French government has closely collaborated with Haftar and the military authorities in Tobruk.
The report published by the European Union shows the extent of France’s military involvement in the conflict.
According to the report, France in 2018 sent $325 million worth of military equipment directly to Libya, into the hands of Haftar’s militias.
Moreover, taking advantage of a loophole in the wording of UN sanctions and an arms embargo, billions of dollars worth of French arms have reached the Libyan battlefields through the UAE and Egypt.
Not just French weapons, but undercover French military and intelligence officers have also taken part in the fight.
Last April, 13 armed French officers whose passport copies were obtained by Al Jazeera, were arrested on the Libya-Tunisia border.
French agents, "under diplomatic cover with arms and ammunition” allegedly assisted Haftar’s militias to capture Tripoli, the base of the UN-recognised Libyan government.
In addition, three years prior to this incident, three French special forces soldiers were killed in a plane crash, the first evidence that Paris was actively militarily involved in the Libyan war.
Ironically, France, the very first country that supported the NATO bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and opposition forces, is now backing a process that could introduce another dictatorship in Libya.