France is recalling its ambassador in Ankara after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Emmanuel Macron’s policy toward Islam and said the French president needed “mental treatment.”
Such “excess” and “coarseness” on the part of Erdogan are “unacceptable,” Macron’s Elysee office said in a statement Saturday, noting that it’s the first time a top diplomat has been recalled from the country. “We demand that Erdogan changes the course of his policy because it’s dangerous.”
Tensions between France and Turkey have been escalating. Macron has long criticized Erdogan’s assertion of regional power, from his intervention in the Libyan civil war to his role in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and his push to explore for energy in the eastern Mediterranean.
The comments by the Turkish leader came after France mourned the murder of a teacher by an Islamist, followed by a pledge by Macron to crack down on radical Islam. Erdogan didn’t offer any message of condolence or support following the killing, according to the statement.
An Elysee official called the comments on Macron’s mental health “brutal,” “aggressive” and “an attack on French values.” The office noted the recall was a “strong diplomatic signal.”
A French ambassador was last recalled when Italian Minister Luigi Di Maio met with representatives of the Yellow Vests, the grassroots movement for social justice that’s critical of Macron.
More measures could be envisioned once the French ambassador has spoken to the president, according to the official, who declined to be identified to comply with government rules.
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