France suspends involvement in NATO naval mission – EU meeting on Turkey

France has decided to withdraw from a NATO naval mission (Sea Guardian) in the Mediterranean following an incident in the Eastern Mediterranean in which France says Turkish frigates were “extremely aggressive” towards a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the area.

Tensions with Turkey have escalated and Paris accuses Ankara of shipping arms to Libya in defiance of a UN embargo.

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said EU foreign ministers would meet on 13 July to discuss Turkey, adding that new sanctions on Ankara could be considered. “Sanctions have already been taken on Turkey by the EU over Turkey’s drilling in the Cyprus economic zone. Other sanctions may be envisaged,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nikos Dendias, Foreign Affairs minister of Greece, which is on the same page with France regarding Turkey’s role in the Mediterranean, visited Libya yesterday and held a meeting with president of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, an opponent of Fayez al-Sarraj, Prime Minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Dendias said both he and Saleh agreed that “the mobilisation of mercenaries from Syria and the violation of the arms embargo are facts that burden Turkey.”

“They give rise to historic responsibilities by Turkey,” he added. Determining the maritime zones between Greece and Libya was also discussed, Dendias said.

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