France withdraws ambassador to Turkey amid rising tension with Erdogan

Oct. 24 (UPI) — France has withdrawn its ambassador to Turkey for “consultations” after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insulted President Emmanuel Macron in television remarks over the treatment of Muslims in France.

Macron has vowed to work against “Islamist separatism” in France after a Paris teacher was beheaded in a plot linked to anger over cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad used in a middle school class.

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“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam?” Erdogan said in the central Turkish city of Kayseri on Saturday. “Macron needs treatment on a mental level. 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?” Erdogan said.

“First of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan taunted.

The French presidency criticized “the excess and the rudeness,” of Ergodan’s remarks, which a spokesman called “dangerous from all points of view.”

The French government also noted the absence of a message of condolences from Turkey after the death of teacher Samuel Paty.

France and Turkey have been drawn into the increasingly violent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with European neighbors attempting to broker a ceasefire in Moscow. Ergodan has been actively supporting Azerbaijan by criticizing air attacks on civilians from Armenia.

In early October, Macron criticized Turkey for allowing “jihadist” fighters from Syria to cross through Turkey into Azerbaijan, calling out the country as a NATO partner and saying “a red line has been crossed.”

France also supports Greece and Cyprus in a simmering conflict with Turkey over off-shore oil drilling in the Mediterranean.

Paris has seen civilian attacks, including a stabbing, in recent weeks connected to the trial of 14 defendants accused of planning a violent shooting attack that killed 17 people in 2015 at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

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