PARIS – France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said President Emmanuel Macron needed mental health treatment and made other comments that the French government qualified as of unacceptable rudeness.
Erdogan questioned the mental state of his French counterpart while criticizing Macron’s attitude towards Islam and Muslims. His remarks at a local party congress were an apparent response to statements Macron made this month about the problems created by radical Muslims in France who practice what the French leader has called “Islamist separatism.”
“What’s wrong with this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?” Erdogan asked rhetorically during his Justice and Development party meeting in the central town of Kayseri in Anatolia.
“What else can we say to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country and belonging to a different religion?” continued the Turkish leader.
The French presidency reacted a few hours later with a statement saying: “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “We do not accept insults”.
Using unusually strong language, the French presidency said: “We ask Erdogan to change his policy, which is dangerous in all respects.”
The presidency recalls that Erdogan, a pious Muslim, did not offer his condolences following the beheading near Paris last week of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet of Islam Muhammad in class. French judicial authorities are investigating the murder as an Islamist terrorist attack.
Tensions between France and NATO allies have intensified in recent months over issues such as the fighting in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenian separatists strain.
Macron notably accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by intensifying its military presence in Libya and by bringing in jihadist fighters from Syria.
France has also sided with Greece and Cyprus in tensions with Turkey over offshore oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, drawing criticism from Ankara.
Andrew Wilks contributed to the history of Ankara, Turkey