A NATO investigation into a naval standoff between French and Turkish ships close to Libya in June has been rated too sensitive to discuss in public and does not apportion blame, as Paris and Ankara wage a war of words, diplomats have told Reuters.
A Turkish ship attempting to illegally smuggle arms into Libya by flying a Tanzanian flag was intercepted by the French on June 10. However, the Turkish navy escorting the cargo ship, harrased a French frigate who attempted to prevent Turkey from breaking the arms ban.
Turkey, as can be expected, denied this and claims it was the French who were aggressive.
A NATO official confirmed the report had been finished, but declined further comment, with one European diplomat telling Reuters “It’s been swept under the carpet.”
Another diplomat revealed that NATO is avoiding finger pointing so they can avoid antagonising Turkey.
French President Emmanuel Macron last week bemoaned Turkey’s “unacceptable behaviour,” with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying “Don’t mess with Turkey.”
This incident also ties into Turkey’s military aggression against Greece and Cyprus by deploying their navy to violate the two European Union members maritime space and continental shelves.
“It’s unclear if there will be a result in these negotiations,” said a senior NATO official. “Every utterance from Paris, Ankara or Athens makes it even harder for allies to walk back from their positions.”
Disputes with Turkey within NATO are not new, Reuters said, highlighting a major issue was Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system that Washington claims is incompatible with NATO specifications.
However, the US seems less than impressed with France’s actions in defending Greece and Cyprus against Turkish aggression.
“Some of this is Macron wanting to be the big man in Europe, which is the same with Erdoğan,” said a U.S. envoy in Europe. “There is a solution to be had with the Turks.”