France hints at sanctions against Erdogan’s Turkey amid bitter row

French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been embroiled in a bitter feud over a number of geopolitical flashpoints, with France’s recently stepped up fight against radical Islam bringing mutual verbal sparring to new heights.

France on 5 November condemned what it slammed as “declarations of violence” coming from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reported AFP.

“There are now declarations of violence, even hatred, which are regularly posted by President Erdogan which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an appearance on Europe 1 radio.
The official underscored that France was not alone in its resentment of recent bellicose statements made by Turkey.

“It is not only France that is targeted, there is total European solidarity on the subject — we want Turkey to renounce this logic,” Le Drian said.

The politician added that the European Council is prepared to implement measures against the Turkish authorities, and “now it is important for the Turks to take the necessary measures to avoid this”.

“There are means of pressure, there is an agenda of possible sanctions,” said Drian.

Verbal Tit-For-Tat
Turkey vowed on 4 November to “respond in the firmest way possible” to France’s ban of what is described as an ultra-nationalist Turkish movement, the Grey Wolves.

While denying the existence of the “Grey Wolves”, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stated it deemed it unacceptable for France to ban its symbol as infringing on freedom of expression.

“There is no such movement called the ‘Grey Wolves’ which the French government banned. This is the latest manifestation of the inconsistent approach used by France to look into the actions of some people who allegedly belong to this non-existent organisation. It is, however, unacceptable to ban symbols that are widespread in many countries of the world and contain nothing illegal,” said the foreign ministry in a statement.
The organisation, whose logo contains a wolf and an Islamic crescent, was outlawed in France Wednesday during a weekly Cabinet meeting, according to government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.

France accused the group of “extremely violent actions”, spreading “extremely violent threats” and creating “incitement to hatred against authorities and Armenians,” said Attal.

France and Turkey at Loggerheads
While France and Turkey have been feuding over a spate of geopolitical issues, such as the conflicts in Syria and Libya, as well as Turkey’s gas explorations in the Mediterranean, recently tensions soared to new highs.

After a French teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a radicalised Muslim teenager on 16 October for showing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in class, President Emmanuel Macron vowed to step up efforts to combat radical Islam, while also expressing support for the continued use of cartoons of the Islamic prophet as a purported manifestation of freedom of speech.

The statements fuelled the already-rising tension between France and the international Muslim community after Macron refused to condemn the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in September to re-publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that had previously unleashed a wave of indignation in the Muslim world.

Several countries called for a boycott of French products, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Macron of islamophobia and advised his counterpart to get “mental checks”.

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