Turkish official refutes claims of harassment toward French warship
A senior Turkish military official has refuted claims that a Turkish navy had harassed a French warship.
The claims of a French Defense Ministry official accusing the Turkish navy of harassing a French warship on a NATO mission was “untrue,” a Turkish military official told Anadolu Agency.
“If one takes into account that the French warship was refueled by our side before the alleged incident, it is clear how inappropriate and intentional the allegation is,” the agency quoted the anonymous official as saying.
The French warship did not establish communications with the Turkish ship during the incident, said the official.
Noting that the French military ship was rapidly maneuvering in violation of NATO procedures and safety rules at sea, the official said that the issue was also shared with NATO military authorities.
While doing this close and dangerous maneuver, the French ship was monitored by the Turkish warship by the camera on the fire control radar for additional navigational safety, but it was never monitored with radar, the official noted.
“A simple coordination problem, which could have been solved among the allied elements on land — if the NATO procedures were easily and correctly implemented, as it has been until today — but instead being shared with the media is not compatible with the principles of solidarity, cooperation and coordination, and the spirit of alliance,” the official said.
France said the French ship had wanted to check whether the Turkish vessel Çirkin was smuggling arms into Libya. In response, French officials said Çirkin had switched off its tracking system, masked its ID number, and refused to say where it was going.
The French Foreign Ministry has accused Turkey’s navy of acting in a hostile manner towards its NATO allies to prevent them from enforcing a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
Turkey, which backs the internationally recognized GNA authorities in Tripoli, has secured a foothold in Libya by helping to repel an assault on the capital by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.