Naval Incident: NATO to investigate French accusations against Turkey

Naval Incident: NATO to investigate French accusations against Turkey

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has announced that it will investigate French accusations that Turkey's navy failed to respond to an allied call for inspection in the Mediterranean.

This was disclosed on Thursday June 18, 2020, by France's armed forces minister, Florence Parly, during a meeting of NATO defence chiefs. 

Turkey, however, rejected the French accusations and denied that the incident as described by France ever occurred.

Parly reported that on June 10 Turkish warships flashed their radar lights three times at the French warship Courbet in the eastern Mediterranean.

She said the Courbet was on a NATO mission to check whether a Turkish vessel, the Cirkin, was smuggling arms to Libya after it turned off its transponder, failed to identify itself and did not give its final destination.

She added that Turkish sailors had also put on bullet-proof vests and stood behind their light weapons during the incident.

"There cannot be any complacency with regard to such behaviour. This particularly serious incident must be dealt with and our allies share our concerns because eight European allies gave me clear support today in NATO," Parly told French lawmakers after the ministerial meeting.

Turkish military officials rejected the French accusations as baseless, according to state-run Anadolu news agency. 

"The Turkish armed forces has the experience to tell the difference between hazardous moves, harassment, friendly activities, cooperation, solidarity, and coordination," a senior Turkish official said. 

The official said France's claim was not backed up by any concrete evidence, and said the French ship was making fast and dangerous manoeuvres that breached NATO principles and navy security rules.

"Turkey informed NATO civilian and military officials about the incident," he added.

The NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, told a news conference on Thursday that the incident was addressed at the meeting by several alliance states.

"My message is that we have made sure that NATO military authorities are investigating the incident to bring full clarity into what happened," he said.