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Iran Press TV

France supports a 'pirate' in Libya: Turkey

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 6:26 PM

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says France is supporting a "pirate" in Libya, a reference to Libyan rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, who has been fighting the internationally-recognized government in the North African country.

"France supports a pirate, a putschist," Cavusoglu said in a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, in Ankara on Tuesday.

Denouncing France's "destructive" approach to the conflict in Libya, the top Turkish diplomat said Paris was acting against the decisions of the United Nations (UN), which supports Libya's internationally-recognized government based in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

"France, which [President Emmanuel] Macron governs, or, rather, which he can't manage to govern at the moment, has been in Libya only for its own interests and ambitions with a destructive approach, just like it pushed Africa to instability in the past with a colonialist approach," Cavusoglu told reporters at the presser.

The Turkish foreign minister said all bilateral relations between Turkey and Libya were "within the framework of transparent agreements," but warned that the presence of France posed a "risk" to the North African country.

He accused France of seeking to increase Russian presence in Libya, saying, "On the one side, NATO sees Russia as a threat, but on the other side, NATO ally France is working to increase Russia's presence there."

Macron had a day earlier accused Turkey of "criminal responsibility" over its involvement in the Libyan conflict.

Under a military pact with Libya signed last November, Turkey sent military advisers to assist the Libyan government forces in their battle against Haftar's rebels.

The UN and international rights groups have expressed concern over possible war crimes after the discovery of mass graves in areas left behind by retreating militias under Haftar's command.

Libya has been in chaos since 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged, namely the internationally-recognized Libyan government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, and another group, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by rebels under the command of Haftar.

Turkey has extended significant help to the Libyan government, helping it push the rebels as far back as Sirte, which lies in an oil-rich region on the Mediterranean coastline.

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