Tensions between EU and Turkey escalate over Erdogan comments

Mr Erdogan said that Emmanuel Macron needed ‘mental health treatment’.

A protest in Turkey
A protest in Turkey

Tensions between the European Union and Turkey have risen further after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the mental state of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Several EU officials criticised Mr Erdogan’s comments over the weekend and the European Commission said on Monday that the Turkish leader should change his approach if he does not want to derail the bloc’s attempts at renewed dialogue with his country.

Mr Erdogan said on Saturday that Mr Macron needed “mental health treatment”.

He made the comments during a local party congress, apparently in response to statements Mr Macron made this month about problems created by radical Muslims in France who practice what the French leader termed “Islamist separatism”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made comments over the weekend (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

France announced on Saturday that it was recalling its ambassador for consultations and the French presidential office noted that Turkey had called for a boycott of French products.

The move, if taken to heart, could add a layer of economic ramifications to the deepening diplomatic tussle.

Mr Erdogan added on Sunday that the French leader has “lost his way”.

The spat comes as tensions between 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.

In a message posted on Twitter on Sunday, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticised Mr Erdogan’s comments as “unacceptable” and urged Turkey to “stop this dangerous spiral of confrontation”.

European Council president Charles Michel blamed Turkey for resorting to “provocations, unilateral actions in the Mediterranean and now insults”.

At a summit earlier this month, EU member states agreed to review Turkey’s behaviour in December and threatened to impose sanctions if Mr Erdogan’s “provocations” do not stop, a council statement said.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said on Monday that he did not exclude an urgent meeting of EU ministers at an earlier date following Mr Erdogan’s latest comments.

“We clearly expect a change in action and declarations from the Turkish side,” Mr Stano said at a news conference, adding there would be many discussions “to see whether we are going to continue to wait or take action earlier”.

Mr Stano insisted that Turkey remains a “very important partner” for the 27-nation bloc and that “no one will profit from more confrontation”.

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