France will push the European Union members to take strong actions against Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hurled provocative comments to French counterpart Macron following the Jihadist attack on a French school teacher.
Addressing the parliament, France’s ministry of European affairs, Clement Beaune said: “We need to go further… We will push for strong European responses, which could include sanctions,” Al Arabiya news agency reported.
The potential for a French retaliation on Turkey comes amid a widening gap in the relationship between the two nations following Erdogan’s insulting comments to Emmanuel Macron.
Earlier, after Turkey called for a boycott of Franch goods, an EU member warned of potential retaliation saying: “Calls for a boycott of products of any member state are contrary to the spirit of these obligations and will take Turkey even further away from the European Union.”
The brutal murder of a French school teacher in broad daylight for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoon jostled the nation at a time when Macron was already vowing to crack down on radical Islam before the attack.
He responded strongly to the beheading incident and said France will not give in to the Islamists and will retain its freedom of expression through cartoons.
But depicting pictures of Prophet Mohammed is seen as blasphemous in Islam, which has irked the Muslim world, including Turkish President Erdogan who said Emmanuel Macron must get a mental health checkup for his comments on cartoons and Islamist extremism.
Erdogan’s ‘personal attack on Macron waged a war of prestige between the two nations, as France shortly afterward called back its envoy to Turkey in a rare move.
On Wednesday, the French satirical magazine whose caricature was shown by the school teacher who was attacked, published a cartoon of Erdogan lifting the skirt of a hijab-wearing woman, with a caption- “Erdogan, he’s a lot of fun in private.”
Turkey responded with a vow to take ‘legal diplomatic actions’ against France, We The World reported earlier alleging France of inciting ‘cultural racism’ and depicting the Turkish President disgracefully and immorally.
Erdogan’s calls on the Turks to ‘never’ give in to French products were met with criticism from the EU.
German foreign minister slammed Erdogan’s comments as a ‘new low point’ and said Germany stands in solidarity with France. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said: “Personal invective does not help the positive agenda that the EU wants to pursue with Turkey.”
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said Erdogan’s comments “fuels religious fanaticism and intolerance” which cannot be tolerated.
As of 2019, France is the biggest contributor to the European Union’s GDP, second only to Germany. In 2019, Germany contributed 25.82 billion Euros to the EU budget while France forwarded 21 billion Euros, according to Statista.
This is not the only dispute Turkey is into with the rest of the world. The Libya conflict, control over the Eastern Mediterranian, and the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region are other issues straining the bilateral relationship between Paris and Ankara.
Just recently, the US has warned of sanctions on Turkey, after Erdogan showed that he takes any threats of sanctions lightly. “Whatever your sanctions are, don’t be late,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in the eastern city of Malatya.
The US responded to a ‘potential serious consequence’ for Ankara over Turkey’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and Turkey’s trial to test the Russian-made S-400 defense systems.
Both Turkey, France, and the US are members of the 28-nation NATO alliance which imposes some formal commitments among the member states, including arms testing.
Turkey has been pushing for testing the S-400 defense system, which the US opposes citing infringement of NATO commitments and strategic partner to the US. But Erdogan says: “We are not going to ask America for permission.”