Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said France should get rid of the “burden” caused by President Emmanuel Macron, as the EU prepares to debate possible sanctions on Ankara over tensions in the Mediterranean.
Erdogan made his comments when talking about the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mediation group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US.
France’s role as a mediator had disappeared over the years. Macron is a burden on France. Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually. My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible.
Last week, France’s Senate, the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament, passed a non-binding resolution calling on Paris to officially recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence. Although France quickly said the move would have no effect on its foreign policy, the resolution was heavily criticized by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the country’s close ally, Turkey.
“Dear brother Ilham Aliyev said that if they love Armenians so much, they should give Marseille to Armenians, and I am giving the same advice,” Erdogan said on Friday, referring to an earlier statement by Aliyev.
The Turkish president previously attacked Macron for his rhetoric on Islam and the crackdown on radical Muslim groups in France, after a school teacher was brutally murdered for showing his class a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed.
Ankara has had rocky relations with the EU in recent years. Brussels has repeatedly protested over Turkey’s exploration of natural gas and offshore drilling near Cyprus and Greece. On Friday, European Council President Charles Michel said the EU member states will meet on December 10 to discuss possible retaliation against Turkey’s “unilateral acts and hostile rhetoric” with relation to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan, meanwhile, said last month that the EU should not become “a tool to open enmities targeting our country.”
The mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is located within the internationally recognized border of Azerbaijan but is populated almost exclusively by ethnic Armenians. The enclave became a de facto independent republic following a bloody war with Baku in the early 1990s.
Open warfare in Nagorno-Karabakh broke out again on September 27 after decades of border skirmishes. Heavy fighting lasted for six weeks until Baku and Yerevan signed a ceasefire brokered by Russia. Under the accord, Armenia agreed to return a sizeable chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas under Azerbaijani control, and Russian peacekeepers were deployed on the ground.
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