Turkey criticizes France over Libya operation

Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Monday that Turkey had difficulty in understanding France’s leading role in using force against Libya.

France fired first shots into Libya. Turkish media said, Turkey slammed France in a NATO meeting in Brussels, saying it distrupted NATO’s 3-stage plans agreed over Libya.

According to the reports, Turkish envoy condemned France, which excluded NATO from the process and bombed Libya without informing NATO allies, causing civilian casualties.

Speaking to reporters while receiving Macedonian Minister of Defense Zoran Konjanovski and an accompanying delegation in Ankara, Vecdi Gonul said that they had difficulty in understanding France’s role that seemed like one executing the relevant United Nations (UN) resolution.

We have difficulty in understanding France’s leading role in using force against Libya. We have seen later that the United States is part of the use of force against Libya. Our Ministry and the Turkish General Staff held talks and are currently holding talks with the sides prior to and after the beginning of air strike on Libya. We continue to receive information and this is where we stand now, Gonul added.

"Fires from all sides"

UN did not demand any combat forces for operation directed against Libya, Gonul says

Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Monday that the United Nations did not demand any combat forces for the operation directed against Libya.

Gonul said that participating in the UN operation on Libya was voluntary and that countries volunteered to become a part of the UN operation.

Unfortunately, Libya is progressing towards an internal crisis, Gonul said.

The UN Security Council adopted the resolution no. 1973 which involves the use of force. This is a decision of the UN and not NATO, Gonul stressed.

Asked if the UN demanded any combat troops from Turkey, Gonul said that the UN did not demand any force.

Countries are acting on a voluntary basis to be a part of UN operation against Libya, Gonul underlined.

Touching on the evacuation of Turkish citizens from Libya, Gonul said that the evacuation of Turks from Libya was an extremely right decision.

We thought that the Turkish citizens in Libya would be left between two fires. However, there is now fire from three sides, Gonul also said.

Turkish meeting on Libya

Several NATO nations, led by France, Britain and the United States, have taken part in air attacks on Libya launched on Sunday. But NATO as an organization, which takes all decisions by consensus, has been divided on whether to take part.

Turkey has spoken against intervention in Libya and has called for an immediate ceasefire.

Germany has also spoken against foreign intervention in Libya, and the Arab League has questioned the need for a heavy bombardment, saying it had killed many civilians.

NATO ambassadors on Sunday approved a plan for the alliance to help enforce a U.N. arms embargo on Libya after Turkey had earlier blocked agreement to help enforce a no-fly zone. The alliance’s role is currently limited to air surveillance.

Envoys from the 28 NATO nations were due to meet later on Monday to agree how to implement an arms embargo, which would involve use of alliance aircraft and ships to prevent weapons reaching Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was due to chair a meeting later on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya with ministers and military commanders, diplomatic sources said.

Erdogan, whose country is a rising diplomatic voice in the Middle East, has urged Gaddafi to appoint a president with popular support as a way to end Libya’s crisis.

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