France threatens Turkey with sanctions over Libya intervention

Penalties for breaching Cyprus’s territorial waters could be extended in retaliation for role in conflict

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 24, 2020. / AFP / Ludovic Marin
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France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that EU foreign ministers would meet on July 13 to discuss Turkey and said new sanctions on Ankara could be considered.

“At our request there will be a meeting of EU foreign ministers on July 13 solely on the Turkish question,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

“Sanctions have already been taken on Turkey by the EU over Turkey’s drilling in the Cyprus economic zone. Other sanctions may be envisaged.”

Turkey’s efforts to forge a maritime zone across to Libya affects many nations.

Its shipments of arms to its allies in the conflict and supply of extremist fighters has also challenged both EU and Nato polices.

Last week Mr Le Drian demanded a discussion within the EU on its relationship with Turkey, which officially remains a candidate to join the bloc despite a stalled membership process.

“France considers it essential that the European Union very quickly opens a comprehensive discussion, without taboos and naivety, on the prospects for its future relationship with Ankara,” he told the French Senate.

“The European Union must firmly defend its own interests because it has the means.”

Tension has mounted between Paris and Ankara over the Libya conflict.

Paris has sought support from EU capitals for its position that Turkey endangered European security by sending Syrian fighters into Libya.

“It’s a danger to ourselves, an unacceptable strategic risk, because it’s 200 kilometres from the Italian coast,” Mr Le Drian has said.

Last year the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and Turkey signed a military co-operation deal.

Ankara has since sent military advisers and trainers, along with allied Syrian fighters from the Syrian National Army rebel group, to Libya to support the GNA.