PARIS, June 24 (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister on Wednesday called on its European Union partners to hold urgent talks on the bloc’s future relations with Turkey, which has clashed with Paris over its role in Libya.
Ties between NATO allies France and Turkey have soured in recent weeks. Paris has criticised Turkey’s military support for the internationally recognised government in Libya and its role in the Syria conflict. Turkey’s drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean are also a point of contention.
“France considers it essential that the European Union extremely quickly opens a substantive discussion, with nothing ruled out, without being naive, about the prospects for the future relationship of the European Union with Ankara,” minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.
The EU must firmly defend its own interests, he added.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of playing “a dangerous game” in Libya. Turkey hit back on Tuesday, saying Macron must have suffered an “eclipse of the mind” to oppose Ankara’s support for the Tripoli government.
With Turkish military backing, government forces have reversed a 14-month assault on the capital Tripoli by forces led by Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Ankara says France has contributed to the chaos by backing Haftar.
“We need clarifications on the role Turkey intends to play in Libya where I believe that we are witnessing a Syrianisation,” Le Drian said, referring to Syrian fighters Ankara had brought in to Libya. (Reporting by John Irish and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Angus MacSwan)