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France recalls envoy to Turkey after Erdogan questions Macron’s mental health

French presidency condemns Turkish president’s ‘insults,’ demands change in Ankara’s ‘dangerous’ policy

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, wearing a protective face mask, waits to welcome Armenian President Armen Sarkissian for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Charles Platiau/Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, wearing a protective face mask, waits to welcome Armenian President Armen Sarkissian for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Charles Platiau/Pool via AP)

PARIS (AP) — France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said President Emmanuel Macron needed mental health treatment and made other comments that the French government described as unacceptably rude.

Erdogan questioned his French counterpart’s mental condition while criticizing Macron’s attitude toward Islam and Muslims. His remarks at a local party congress were an apparent response to statements Macron made this month about problems created by radical Muslims in France who practice what the French leader termed “Islamist separatism.”

“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?” Erdogan asked rhetorically during his Justice and Development party meeting in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.

“What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?” the Turkish leader continued.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, wearing a mask to help protect against the spread of coronavirus, greets his ruling party members gathered in a stadium, in Kayseri, Turkey, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

The French presidency reacted hours later with a statement that said, “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “We are not accepting insults.”

Using unusually strong language, the French presidency said, “We demand Erdogan to change his policy, which is dangerous in all aspects.”

The presidency pointed out that Erdogan, a devout Muslim, did not offer condolences following the beheading near Paris last week of a teacher who had shown in class some caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. French judicial authorities are investigating the killing as an Islamist terror attack.

Tensions between NATO allies France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues that include the fighting in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.

This file photo taken on August 23, 2019 in Istanbul shows a view of Turkish General Directorate of Mineral research and Exploration’s (MTA) Oruc Reis seismic research vessel docked at Haydarpasa port, which searches for hydrocarbon, oil, natural gas, and coal reserves at sea.  (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

Macron has notably accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria.

France also has sided with Greece and Cyprus in tensions with Turkey over offshore oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting criticism from Ankara.

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