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Why is France a useful adversary for Turkey?

Although France has the means to hamper Turkey, both in the European Union and Africa, its current strategy often plays into Turkey’s hands, as evidenced by its recent failure to squeeze Turkey through a NATO probe.
BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) are pictured during a family picture at the Chancellery on January 19, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Leaders of nations and organizations linked to the current conflict are meeting to discuss measures towards reaching a consensus between the warring sides and ending hostilities. (Photo by Emmanuele Contini/Getty Images)

The first round in the Turkish-French confrontation over Libya, coming atop the energy row in the eastern Mediterranean, resulted in Ankara’s favor. In early July, a furious France pulled out from a NATO security mission in the Mediterranean after a NATO investigation did not back its allegations that two Turkish frigates harassed a French warship as it sought to inspect a vessel suspected of carrying weapons to Libya last month.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan savored the outcome of the investigation, many in Ankara were quick to conclude that French power was in decline. Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency has said that France lacks coherent strategies and tools to exert influence in the region, struggles to get support from other European heavyweights, is still haunted by its army’s “debacle” in World War II and “cannot stomach” Turkey’s military capabilities. The argument goes that France is trying to pit Turkey against Russia, while also hoping for a Turkish-Egyptian war in Libya.

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