French leader Emmanuel Macron recently said Turkey was deploying additional fighters to Libya despite the Berlin summit and the agreements that had been made by the actors involved. As a result of its actions, Turkey was exacerbating the current conflict, Macron claimed. Ankara, however, has reacted by accusing France of being “mainly responsible” for Libya’s problems and the continuous war.
Agreements Made At The Jan. 19 Berlin Conference
At the Berlin-Libya Conference on January 19, France, Turkey, and ten other countries committed themselves, inter alia, to cease any interference and support for the conflicting parties and to abide by the arms embargo. Afterwards, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of an “important contribution” to the peace efforts.
The Roots Of The France-Turkey Disagreement
One and a half weeks after the Berlin-Libya Conference, the demonstrative unity and optimism of the participants appears to have disappeared. After having agreed upon a framework that was supposed to bring peace to Libya, France and Turkey are now accusing each other of starting the armed conflict.
President Erdogan did not keep his promise to cease interfering in Libya, Macron said in Paris on Wednesday. The latter was a “clear violation” of Erdogan’s announcements at the Libya conference in Berlin.
Turkey’s response to what must have felt like two affronts thus did not come as a surprise. France has been the main actor responsible for the problems in Libya since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated on Wednesday evening.
Macron’s Accusations Against Turkey
Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Macron leveled his accusation that “in the past few days we have seen Turkish ships that have accompanied Syrian militias to Libya.” According to Macron this threatens “the security of all Europeans and the inhabitants of the Sahel zone.” The French head of state also called it a “failure” that Erdogan did not keep his word.
Specifically, Macron accuses Turkey of sending Syrian fighters to Tripoli in support of the Libyan unity government under Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. Turkey, on the other hand, sees France supporting Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting against Sarraj. It was “no secret” that France supports Haftar “unconditionally” to be able to influence the distribution of natural resources, Çavuşoğlu continued.
Macron Praises Turkish Historian Who Recognizes Armenian Genocide
However, it was not the only occurrence that concerned Ankara. Macron also honored and praised the Turkish historian Taner Akçam on Wednesday. Akçam is well known for his research on the Armenian genocide and who was one of the first in his country to investigate the atrocities during World War I—which historically has been a sensitive issue in relation to Turkey, as Ankara has never recognized the massacre as genocide. Akçam should be recognized for denouncing “the denial” of “organized killings” against the Armenians, Macron said during a ceremony at which Akçam received a medal for valor for his new book Killing Orders.
“You do not build a big story on a lie, and you do not build a policy on revisionism or denial,” Macron emphasized, referring to Turkey. The French President also declared April 24 to be the “national day commemorating the Armenian genocide” which further incurred Ankara’s anger.
France was the first major European country to classify the massacre of Armenians as genocide in 2001. Germany followed in June 2016, which triggered a severe diplomatic crisis with Turkey. It is estimated that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917. Turkey, however, continues to speak of significantly lower casualties and denies that it was a genocide.