Macron lashes Erdogan; discusses terror with Tunisian leader after Nice attack

French President Emmanuel Macron accuses Turkey of taking a “bellicose” stance towards its NATO allies, saying tensions could ease if Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows respect and does not tell lies.

“Turkey has a bellicose attitude towards its NATO allies,” he tells Al-Jazeera, condemning Turkey’s behavior in Syria, Libya and the Mediterranean.

He says that France’s wish was that things “calm down” but for this to happen, it is essential that the “Turkish president respects France, respects the European Union, respects its values, does not tell lies and does not utter insults.”

“I note that Turkey has imperial inclinations in the region and I think that these imperial inclinations are not a good thing for the stability of the region, that’s it,” Macron says.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures at a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on September 21, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

There have been weeks of tensions between France and Turkey, which reached a peak last weekend when Erdogan questioned the mental health of Macron.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says Turkey made “the deliberate choice to instrumentalize” the beheading of a French teacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, accusing Ankara of launching “a hateful and slanderous campaign against us.”

However, the minister says Turkey’s condemnation of a knife attack at a church in Nice this week was “different, clear, unambiguous, but that does not preclude clarifications from Ankara.”

Separately, Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks with Macron about migration and “terrorism,” following the deadly knife attack in Nice allegedly perpetrated by a Tunisian.

Saied and Macron discuss by phone repeated “terrorist acts” against France as well as the “question of illegal immigration and the solutions to be found together,” a statement from the Tunisian presidency reads.

Illegal sea crossings to Europe from Tunisia have been on the rise, largely driven by economic woes after a 2011 popular revolution that many hoped would bring more significant change.

Tunisian citizen Brahim Issaoui, 21, is suspected of brutally killing three people in Thursday’s attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice in southern France.

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