France to summon Turkish envoy over Erdogan`s `insults`

Cheryl Sanders
December 3, 2019

The French government summoned the Turkish ambassador Friday to seek explanations after his president described French President Emmanuel Macron as "brain dead".

"The questions I have asked are open questions, that we haven't solved yet", said the French president after a meeting in Paris with Nato's secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg.

Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ambassador Ismail Hakki Musa was summoned Friday to explain "unacceptable statements. that have no place in Turkish-French relations and can not substitute for the necessary dialogue between the two countries", according to the Associated Press.

"What we are now experiencing is the brain death of NATO", Macron said in the interview, before replying "I don't know", when asked if he still believed in the collective defense guarantee. "We are expecting president Erdogan to clarify".

With Turkey allegedly testing the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, and reportedly planning to block a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation project to defend Poland and the Baltics, France has criticized Ankara, saying it can not expect solidarity from allies over any offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces in Syria.

On Thursday, after a meeting with Stoltenberg, Macron said that he believed that terrorism needed to be a higher priority for the alliance than Russian Federation, comments that unnerved eastern European countries that still fear a direct threat from the Kremlin.

Macron's "brain death" comment, published in an interview with the Economist magazine this month, drew sharp criticism from allies, not least Stoltenberg, who warned against undermining the transatlantic alliance.

Erdogan appeared particularly angered by Macron's criticism of Turkey's operation in neighbouring Syria, which began on October 9 with the stated aim of driving Kurdish fighters - considered "terrorists" by Ankara - away from its border and establish a "safe zone" to house some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in the country.

In a bid to mollify US President Donald Trump, ahead of the summit on 4 December in London, alliance chief Stoltenberg said European countries and Canada would boost defense spending by 4.6 percent in 2019.

But cutting the amount the US pays into the so-called common fund is unlikely to distract Trump's focus on increasing the allies' defense spending.

The New York Times reported that in a goodwill gesture to Trump, NATO announced on Thursday that it had agreed to reduce the United States' contribution to the alliance's relatively small central budget, a move aimed at ensuring a calm leaders' meeting next week in London.

Then on Thursday, he said that Washington will in the future pay less into NATO's common budget for running its headquarters and other operations. Instead there will be a "short declaration on the "success story of NATO", a diplomat said.

Macron stated in an interview three weeks in the past there was a scarcity of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States of America and Turkey, on the opposite.

Other reports by iNewsToday