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Turkey condemns Macron's 'arrogant' comments on eastern Mediterranean

AFP , Thursday 10 Sep 2020
From left to right, Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa attend a media conference after an emergency summit in Porticcio, Corsica island, Thursday Sept.10, 2020. AP

Ankara on Thursday condemned French President Emmanuel Macron's "arrogant" comments on the simmering eastern Mediterranean standoff, which has pitted Turkey against Greece and the rest of the EU.

"French President Macron has again made an arrogant... statement," the foreign ministry said, adding in a statement that the French leader's comments were a sign "of his own weakness and despair".

Speaking in Corsica, where seven Mediterranean nations are discussing a response to Turkey's search for energy in waters claimed by Greece, Macron said Europe needed "to be clear and firm with the government of President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan".

"The people of Turkey, who are a great people, deserve something else," Macron said while discussing Erdogan's approach to the crisis, which Greece wants punished with biting economic sanctions.

The Turkish ministry accused Macron, who has backed Greece's claims by sending French warships into the region, of inflaming tensions "with his personal and nationalist attitude".

Macron's approach "puts Europe and the EU's great interests in jeopardy", the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Erdogan's top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, responded to Macron through a tweet: "Which E. Macron ought to be condemned for his desperate attacks on Turkey?" he asked.

"Macron, who pretended to be De Gaulle, that announced NATO's brain death? Macron, who armed terrorists in Libya and hurt NATO's southern flank? Or the wannabe Napoleon with his Mediterranean campaign?" he wrote.

Tensions have risen over the last year between Macron and Erdogan, notably when the French leader said that the lack of NATO response to a unilateral Turkish operation in northern Syria showed that the alliance was undergoing "brain death".

Turkey backs the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in the conflict against eastern based Libyan National Army (LNA) lead by Khalifa Haftar.

France, despite public denials, has long been suspected of favouring Haftar, who has the backing of Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the European Parliament on Thursday that his country was against Macron's "hostile" policies.

"As Turkey and the Turkish government we have no problem with French people, we cannot, we are allies ... but we are against your President Macron's very hostile attitudes toward us," he told the parliament's foreign affairs committee through a video conference from Senegal.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online

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