Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to provoke French President Emmanuel Macron, calling him a “burden” and a “problem,” that he hopes France will “get rid of” soon, Reuters reports.
In reference to recent protests in France over a controversial security bill, Erdogan said Friday, “Macron is a burden on France. Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually.”
The security bill, under fire by civil rights activists and journalists, would make photographing and sharing images of police officers a crime in certain cases.
Its proponents argue that the bill will help reduce calls for anti-police violence online, while journalists and activists see the bill as curtailing press freedom and shielding the police from accountability.
“My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron ‘trouble’ as soon as possible,” the Turkish President continued.
Tensions reached a boiling point between the two leaders after Macron began to crack down on what the state found to be extremist mosques and Islamic groups in France. The move came in the wake of the brutal beheading of a French teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom by an Islamic extremist.
In late October, Erdogan suggested in a speech that Macron’s fight against radical Islamic terrorism was inspired by a hatred of Muslims, who make up around 10% of France’s population, and stated that the French PM needed “psychological treatment.”
The two countries are diametrically opposed on other pressing issues, especially the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
France argued that Turkey helped escalate the conflict between the two countries, supporting Azerbaijan, its ally.
France’s support for peace and advocacy for the ethnic Armenians, the historic residents of the region, brought the ire of Erdogan, who stated Friday: “If they love Armenians so much, then they should give Marseilles to the Armenians,” reiterating a previous comment made by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev about France.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was resolved in early November by a peace deal, brokered by Russia and supported by Turkey, that handed the region over to Azerbaijan, forcing the Armenians living in the region to flee.
Macron has also supported Greece and Cyprus after Turkey’s repeated attempts, many successful, to encroach on Greek and Cypriot waters in search of energy reserves in the Mediterranean Sea.