On June 17, the French Ministry of Armed Forces accused the Turkish Navy of harassing a French warship in the Mediterranean sea.
The warship, that was participating in a NATO mission, tried to check a cargo vessel on suspicion it was taking arms to Libya. However, a Turkish frigate intervened. The frigate carried out radar targeting at least three times, suggesting that a missile was about to be launched at the French warship.
“This is an extremely aggressive act that is unacceptable by an ally against a NATO ship,” a French defence official told AFP, adding “We consider this an extremely grave matter … We cannot accept that an ally behaves this way, that it does this against a NATO ship, under NATO command, carrying out a NATO mission.”
A Turkish official denied France’s claims, accusing French forces of attempting to search a Turkish ship in international waters. The official said Ankara expects allies to show “understanding and sensitivity towards the Turkish Navy and its presence.”
Turkey shipped large quantities of heavy weapons to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya over the recent few months violating a UN-imposed arms embargo. Ankara also deployed 14,000 Syrian fighters in the country.
France is not apparently pleased with Turkey’s ever growing influence in the region because it limits prospects of France-linked oil companies operating there. This is an example of the current division within the NATO over the situation in Libya, that was wrecked by the pact’s intervention in 2011.