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France calls on EU to discuss relationship with Turkey

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a speech during the 56th Munich Security Conference at Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany on 15 February 2020. [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency]
French President Emmanuel Macron makes a speech during the 56th Munich Security Conference at Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany on 15 February 2020. [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency]

France’s foreign minister on Wednesday called on its European Union partners to hold urgent talks on the bloc’s future relations with Turkey, which has clashed with Paris over its role in Libya, Reuters reports.

Ties between NATO allies France and Turkey have soured in recent weeks. Paris has criticised Turkey’s military support for the internationally recognised government in Libya and its role in the Syria conflict. Turkey’s drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean are also a point of contention.

“France considers it essential that the European Union extremely quickly opens a substantive discussion, with nothing ruled out, without being naive, about the prospects for the future relationship of the European Union with Ankara,” minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.

READ: Turkey reiterates its support for Libya’s Government of National Accord

The EU must firmly defend its own interests, he added.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of playing “a dangerous game” in Libya. Turkey hit back on Tuesday, saying Macron must have suffered an “eclipse of the mind” to oppose Ankara’s support for the Tripoli government.

With Turkish military backing, government forces have reversed a 14-month assault on the capital Tripoli by forces led by Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Ankara says France has contributed to the chaos by backing Haftar.

“We need clarifications on the role Turkey intends to play in Libya where I believe that we are witnessing a Syrianisation,” Le Drian said, referring to Syrian fighters Ankara had brought in to Libya.

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