Erdogan tells France not to ‘mess with Turkey’ in Mediterranean feud
- The Turkish leader slammed Macron over his criticism of Ankara’s maritime activities in the eastern Mediterranean
- Earlier, the French president condemned Turkey for drilling hydrocarbon in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus
“Don’t mess with the Turkish people. Don’t mess with Turkey,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul on the 40th anniversary of the 1980 military coup.
Macron on Thursday said Europeans must be “clear and firm with, not Turkey as a nation and people, but with the government of President Erdogan which has taken unacceptable actions.”
The French leader was speaking before the summit of the EU’s seven Mediterranean nations, which threatened Turkey with sanctions over its activities.
The latest tensions began after Turkey deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and warships to the disputed waters on August 10 and prolonged the mission three times.
But the Turkish leader on Saturday dismissed such remarks and accused Macron of “lacking historical knowledge”.
“Mr Macron, you’re going to have more problems with me,” Erdogan threatened.
They were his first comments directly taking aim at the French leader after remaining silent during the latest row.
He later said France “couldn’t give a lesson in humanity” to Turkey, and told Macron to look first at France’s own record, notably in Algeria and its role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Relations between Turkey and France have deteriorated over the eastern Mediterranean, but the two allies disagree on other major issues including the Syria and Libya conflicts.
Ankara and Paris have previously traded barbs after French officials in 2018 met with Syrian Kurdish leaders linked to a US-backed militia viewed by Turkey as “terrorists”.
The two countries are also on opposing sides in Libya, where Ankara backed the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli against a 2019 offensive by military leader Khalifa Hifter.
France is suspected of supporting Hifter, but insists it is neutral in the conflict.
Erdogan accused France of intervening in Libya “for petrol”, and in Africa for “diamonds, gold, copper”.