Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan has taken offence at French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Islam, according to a France24 report on Tuesday. Last week, Macron observed that Islam was a religion in worldwide crisis when announcing plans to strengthen the legal separation of church and state in France December next.
Erdoğan described Macron’s observation as an open provocation, adding that Macron remarks were more than disrespectful and claiming that he was not qualified to criticise Islam. He accused Macron of ignorance about Islam and called on him to act like a responsible leader rather than a colonial governor.
Erdoğan condemned Macron’s pledge to fight Islamist separatism in order to counter the perceived takeover threat it poses to some of France’s Muslim communities in France, as impertinent, according to a Reuters report yesterday. Erdogan warned that Macron’s description of Muslims in France as separatists could lead to major conflicts. In the circumstances, Macron should not be shown respect.
On Tuesday, the EU indicated that Turkey’s EU membership aspirations should not be speeded up, given Ankara’s failure to uphold democratic standards, respect the independence of its courts and its ineffective fight against corruption, AP reported. The European Commission stressed that Turkish authorities continue to exert undue pressure on civil society, on the media and on aid groups, with political power still concentrated in Erdoğan’s hands.
The EC warned that Turkey is continuing to drift further away from the EU in terms of democratic values such as rule of law, fundamental rights and separation of powers. While commending Turkey for its migrant policies, the EC concluded that there is still a long way to go before it can be allowed to join the bloc.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused the EU of being prejudiced against Turkey and insisted that EU criticism of Ankara is unfounded and largely shaped by the selfish and narrow perspective of certain circles.
Relations between the EU and Turkey have deteriorated in the last years, with tensions rising recently over Turkey’s oil and gas exploration activities in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.