France, in tantrum, directs EU foreign policy against Turkey – analyst

France has been throwing a “sustained tantrum” against Turkey for months over its influence in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, analyst Muhammad Hussein wrote in Middle East Monitor on Wednesday.

“Over the past year in particular, France has led the way in directing the European Union’s opposition to Turkey’s regional interests and foreign policy initiatives,” Hussein said.

“This was observed clearly in its condemnation of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in north-east Syria last October, and again with Ankara’s military and political support for the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya.”

The Libyan conflict has been particularly triggering for France, who has said Turkey is playing a “criminal” role in the country through its military support for the GNA.

Hussein said that Ankara’s strained relationship with Paris - a NATO ally - is bad news for its relations with Europe as a whole, as France often continues to guide the bloc’s direction and policy.

“It is not only France that Turkey is upsetting; there is also the potential to damage relations with the whole continent, because France remains one of the most powerful and influential players within the EU,” he said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has arranged a meeting with his EU counterparts on 13 July, raising the possibility of sanctions being imposed on Ankara.

“France has made the EU toe the line according to its own national interests, with Turkey the main target,” Hussein said. “The rest of Europe is either unwilling or unable to rein France in, despite the disadvantages that come with opposing Turkey which is, after all, both strategically and politically, as well as militarily, arguably the main player in the region.”