French Ministry of Defense: Turkish ships deliberately obstructed French naval vessels of NATO mission

PARIS / ANKARA – Several Turkish ships have intentionally obstructed French ships operating in the Mediterranean as a part of a NATO mission, said the French Ministry of Defense on Wednesday

The aggressive actions of the Turkish navy towards a supposed ally has aroused outrage of France officials.

Turkish actions of the Turkish navy are likely to do with the country’s involvement in the conflict in Libya, where it is seeking to exert greater regional influence.

“We have known complicated moments in the alliance, but we can’t be an ostrich and can’t pretend there isn’t a Turkey problem at NATO. We have to see it, say it and handle it,” said an official with the French Ministry of Defense.

The official also called Turkey’s behavior throughout the region unacceptable, specifically pointing out Libya.

He accused the Turkish navy of using their NATO call signals while accompanying Turkish vessels suspected of breaking a U.N. arms embargo to deliver weapons to Libya.

He cited a case in which he said Turkish naval ships acted aggressively towards a French warship on a NATO mission to check whether the Turkish vessel Cirkin was smuggling arms to Libya.

French officials said the Cirkin had switched off its tracking system, masked its ID number and refused to say where it was going. “It was an extremely aggressive act and cannot be the action of an ally who is working within NATO under the command of NATO,” the French defense official said.