PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that Turkey’s attitude to Libya is “unacceptable” as France views Ankara as an obstacle to securing a ceasefire in the conflict-torn country.
Macron spoke to Tunisian President Kais Saied at an evening news conference in Paris.
Macron urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end his country’s actions in Libya.
“I consider today that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya and is not living up to all its commitments,” he said.
Macron said he discussed the matter in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump earlier on Monday.
The White House said the two leaders agreed on the urgent need for a ceasefire in Libya and for a rapid resumption of negotiations by the Libyan parties. Trump and Macron reiterated that military escalation on all sides must stop immediately to avoid the Libyan conflict becoming even more dangerous and unruly.
Tensions between France and Turkey have escalated following an incident on June 10 between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, which France says is a hostile act under NATO rules. Turkey has denied harassing the French frigate.
France accused Ankara of repeated violations of the UN arms embargo on conflict-torn Libya.
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising toppled leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.
The country has since been split between rival administrations in the East and West, each supported by armed groups and various foreign governments.
On his first trip to Europe since being elected in October last year, Saied is also the first head of state to visit France since the country’s closure during the pandemic. Virus restrictions imposed in France in mid-March have virtually all been lifted in recent weeks.
Tunisia has strong political and economic ties with France, the former colonial power.
Monday’s meeting in Paris, followed by dinner at the Elysee Presidential Palace, also comes less than two weeks after the Tunisian parliament rejected a motion calling on France to apologize for crimes allowed during the colonial era and to pay damages.
Opponents argued that such a move would be an economic disaster, as France is Tunisia’s main trading partner and the No. 1 foreign investor. It is also home to 1 million Tunisians.
But supporters of the motion said an apology is needed to turn “the page about this dark period” in the history of the two countries and put their relations on an equal footing.
The debate came amid renewed anger in some European countries over the crimes of colonialism, following protests in the United States over racial injustice and police brutality following George Floyd’s death.
France occupied Tunisia as a protectorate for 75 years, from 1881 to 1956. French soldiers did not leave Tunisian territory until 1963.
Washington AP writer Nancy Benac contributed to the story.
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