Turkey dismisses France’s naval aggression claim in Mediterranean

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Saturday dismissed claims that Turkish frigates acted aggressively towards a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission earlier this month.

NATO is investigating a June 10 incident in the Eastern Mediterranean in which France claims Turkish frigates exercised “extreme aggression’’ towards a French warship enforcing a U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

"Consideration of all records, including information, documents and all data from our ship and headquarters demonstrate that the claim is entirely unsubstantial,’’ T24 news site quoted Akar as saying.

"Documents prepared on the matter, which prove Turkey’s legitimacy on the matter, have been shared with civilian and military authorities at the NATO headquarters,’’ he said.

A French Defence Ministry official told Reuters that the French ship had wanted to check whether the Turkish vessel Cirkin was smuggling arms to Libya, to which Cirkin had responded by switching off its tracking system, masking its ID number, and refusing to say where it was going.

Turkey and France have been at odds over the civil war in Libya, accusing each other of supporting opposing sides of the conflict.

Ankara throws its weight behind Libya’s U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), bolstering the GNA-allied forces with Turkish drones, armoured vehicles, military advisers and Syrian mercenaries against the Paris-backed Libyan National Army (LNA), led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

On Tuesday, Turkey said France violated U.N. and NATO policies by supporting the Haftar’s 14-month offensive to seize the Libyan capital Tripoli from the GNA.