Speaking during a press briefing in capital Ankara on Friday, Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized that Turkey had foiled French hope for renegade military strongman Khalifa Haftar to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli by providing military support to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), repelling Haftar’s assault back in June.
“In Libya they (France) supported the putschist Haftar and made a grave mistake,” he said, adding, “Things changed, balances shifted, Haftar was defeated and Macron became hysterical.”
Ankara has blamed Paris for politically backing Haftar and his rebel forces known as Libyan National Army (LNA) against the Tripoli-based GNA, having previously given him military assistance to fight pro-government forces. Paris, however, denies this.
In June, Turkey and France nearly came to blows after a French warship attempted to inspect a Turkish vessel as part of a UN arms embargo against Libya.
“With that hysteria, he didn’t know what to do. Right after that, he said our ships had harassed their ships in the eastern Mediterranean but couldn’t document this and was humiliated,” the Turkish minister said.
Cavusoglu also reiterated Ankara’s position that France was the country provoking Greece the most in the eastern Mediterranean conflict, calling on Paris to cooperate with Turkey to accomplish regional stability.
He then stated mockingly, “There is no need for such hysterical behavior from France, it makes them look laughable. We are two NATO member countries.”
Meanwhile, there was no immediate reaction to Cavusoglu’s harsh criticism of Paris by Macron’s Elysee office or the French foreign ministry.
France has also backed Athens in the east Mediterranean maritime dispute, taking part in joint war games with Italy, Greece and Cyprus amid conflicting Greek-Turkish claims to continental shelves in areas of exploration for oil and natural gas.