French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of bearing “criminal responsibility” for the situation in Libya, and slammed Russia’s ambivalence on the Kremlin mercenaries in the North African country.
“I think it’s a historic and criminal responsibility for a country which claims to be a NATO member,” Macron said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, according to Reuters.
Without presenting any evidence on the nature of the fighters, the French President said Turkey was “massively importing” jihadists from Syria. France has frequently reiterated its position that it is not taking sides in Libya, saying, however, that Turkey endangered European security by sending Syrian fighters to Libya.
Tensions between Paris and Ankara have been on the rise, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry earlier in June, accusing France of deepening the crisis in Libya by supporting the General Khalifa Haftar against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, with whom the country signed in 2019 two agreements on security and military cooperation and restriction of marine jurisdictions.
Ankara’s accusations came a few days after France called for talks among NATO allies on what it described as Turkey’s increasingly “aggressive” role in Libya, which was thwarting efforts to secure a cease-fire.
Libya has been torn by conflict since 2011, when the NATO-backed uprising overthrown the longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. In the war-torn country, the internationally-recognised GNA is clashing with the forces of Libya’s National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar.
Macron also reportedly spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 27, without however denouncing the country’s actions in Libya. The two leaders agreed, instead, to work towards a common goal of a ceasefire, with Putin supporting that private contractors in Libya did not represent Russia.
“I told him of my very clear condemnation of the actions which are carried out by the Wagner force… he plays on this ambivalence,” Macron said on Monday.
Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Taher el-Sonni has urged the EU and US to impose sanctions on Kremlin mercenaries, after Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that members of the Wagner Group forced their way into El-Sharara oilfield to halt oil exports.