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France says Turkey is the “main obstacle” to peace in Libya

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

PARIS – Turkey’s violation of the United Nations arms embargo is the “main obstacle” to peace in Libya, the French Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

France also accused Turkey’s navy on of acting in a hostile and unacceptable manner towards its NATO allies to prevent them from enforcing a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.

“The main obstacle to the establishment of peace and stability in Libya today lies in the systematic violations of the United Nations arms embargo, in particular on the part of Turkey, despite the commitments made to  Berlin at the start of the year,” reads the statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.

“France does not choose one side or the other in Libya and has always said that there will be no military solution to this conflict. It has worked for the past few weeks to relaunch negotiations for a swift ceasefire under the aegis of the United Nations and within the framework set in Berlin.”

A conflict sparked last year between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) after the latter launched a military operation in the capital.

The conflict was aggravated by security agreements signed last November between GNA and Turkey, which paved the way for Ankara to send its own troops as well as Syrian mercenaries to fight with GNA.

Earlier this month, LNA forces unilaterally retreated from Tripoli and other western cities in an effort to establish a ceasefire and relaunch the peace process. However, Turkey-backed GNA armed groups exploited LNA’s withdrawal to attack Tarhuna, Sirte and Jufra.

Over 2,000 people were displaced from those cities following GNA’s offense.

“Turkey’s support for the continuation of the Government of National Accord’s offensive goes directly against efforts to secure an immediate truce,” the French Foreign Ministry said in its statement today.

“This support is coupled with hostile and unacceptable behavior by Turkey’s maritime forces towards NATO allies, aimed at obstructing efforts to implement the United Nations arms embargo.”

“These behaviors, like all foreign interference in the Libyan conflict, must stop,” concludes the French statement.

NATO defence ministers are holding a virtual meeting this week amid growing tensions between Paris and Ankara.

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