FILE PHOTO: In this file photo taken on January 5, 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walk during a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (Photo: AFP)
France on Saturday said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after "unacceptable" comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioning the mental health of French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
France and its NATO ally are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and most recently the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
But Ankara has now been particularly incensed by a campaign championed by Macron to protect France's secular values against radical Islam, a debate given new impetus by the murder this month of a teacher who showed his class a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed.
"President Erdogan's comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdogan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect," a French presidential official told AFP.
In a highly unusual move, the official added that the French ambassador to Turkey was being recalled for consultations and would meet Macron to discuss the situation.
The Elysee official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted "the absence of messages of condolence and support" from the Turkish president after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris.
Erdogan earlier slammed Macron over his policies toward France's large Muslim minority, saying that he needed "mental checks."
"What's the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?" Erdogan asked.
"Macron needs mental treatment," Erdogan added, while indicating he did not expect Macron to win a new mandate in 2022 elections.
The Elysee official said that Erdogan had two months to reply to the demands for a change in stance and that it ends its "dangerous adventures" in the eastern Mediterranean and "irresponsible conduct" over Karabakh where Ankara is strongly backing Baku.
"Measures need to be taken by the end of the year," said the official.