France’s President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of breaking promises made at a conference on Libya by sending Turkish warships and Syrian fighters to the war-torn country, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“I want to express my concerns with regard to the behavior of Turkey at the moment, which is in complete contradiction with what Erdogan committed to at the Berlin conference,” the French president told reporters at a press conference with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
On Monday, two Turkish frigates, allegedly filled with Syrian fighters, were spotted off Libya in an effort to support one of the warring parties in the country.
“We have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed in Berlin. It’s a broken promise,” Macron added.
Ankara backs the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which has been fighting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) since April.
At the Berlin Conference on January 19, the leaders of the countries party to the Libyan conflict had agreed on ending military aid to the warring parties and maintaining an existing arms embargo by the United Nations (UN).
On January 25, the UN said several countries backing rival factions in Libya had violated the arms embargo since the Berlin summit, without naming them.
Cargo planes full of advanced weapons, armored vehicles, advisers and fighters had arrived at airports of both conflicting parties, according to the UN.
The UN warned that those embargo-breaking acts risked “plunging the country into a renewed and intensified round of fighting”.
Confirming the UN report, Macron only mentioned Turkey’s violations.
Macron’s France had been previously accused of providing the LNA with military assistance to boost it in its fight against Islamist militants. It is an accusation that France denies.
The oil-rich North African country, home to Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, has had no stable central authority since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi. It is now drawing increasing involvement from foreign powers.
In November last year, Erdogan and the GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj signed two controversial agreements on maritime borders and on security cooperation, both of which were subsequently ratified by the two countries’ parliaments.
Based on the latter, Turkey has deployed troops to support the GNA. Ankara has also been accused of sending its ally Syrian rebel fighters to Libya.