Turkey hits back against criticism by France


Ankara has responded angrily to remarks by France that suggested Turkey was a threat to Europe’s welfare and security, Anadolu news agency said.

“By targeting Turkey in his interview with ‘Le Monde’ newspaper, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian is trying to cover up the desperate situation that France is facing due to the coronavirus crisis,” Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement.

“[The] French Government, by pulling away from its ambition for competition, must give up seeing Turkey as a threat for Europe’s welfare and security,” he said.

Le Drian had made critical comments about Turkey’s foreign policy during an interview with Le Monde – including Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air defence missiles, which has greatly angered fellow NATO members, as well as its actions in Syria, Libya, and regarding refugees.

“When Turkey demands solidarity, it must at the same time provide clarification. That hasn’t been done, the pandemic doesn’t allow it, but we won’t be able to avoid that clarification,” Le Drian said.

In response to Le Drian’s statements, Aksoy said: “It appears that the help extended by Turkey during these dark times as a true friend has created discomfort in France who could not help its European neighbours during their most difficult days.”

Aksoy said that, by supporting the Libyan National Army forces of General Khalifa Haftar – against those of the Government of National Accord, which is backed by Turkey and recognised by the United Nations – France is effectively prolonging the suffering of the Libyan people during a civil conflict. He also criticised France for its role in the Syrian civil war and for its stance over Cyprus, which has been divided since Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup that sought unification with Greece.

“In fact, it is France who is supporting terrorist organisations in Syria, backing the forces against the legitimate regime in Libya, eroding the solution dynamics of the island and persistently ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and trying to implement sanctions on its ally, Turkey,” the statement added.

“Let us not forget that in contradiction with Resolution No 2259 of the United Nations Security Council, by supporting Haftar, who believes that the only solution to the crisis in Libya is through military means, sabotages all ceasefire efforts, bombs hospitals even during these epidemic days, blocks Libya’s only income, which is oil production and cuts water lines, France is preventing the cessation of the Libyan people’s suffering,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the phone on Tuesday, Anadolu said. The leaders discussed the COVID-19 coronavirus and bilateral relations.



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