Turkey on Thursday accused Emmanuel Macron of sponsoring terrorism in reaction to new criticism by the French president about Ankara’s operation in Syria.
Turkey last month launched an offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said targeted the “terrorists” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and the Islamic State group.
But the move prompted criticism of Ankara that it was weakening the fight against dispersed IS elements with the operation against the YPG, which had been spearheading the fight against the jihadist group.
Macron, who has repeatedly criticised the Turkish offensive, said on Thursday that Ankara had presented its allies with a “fait accompli” that endangered the anti-IS coalition’s action.
Macron’s comments sparked a sharp reaction from Ankara, which accuses Paris of seeking to establish a Kurdish state in Syria.
“In any case, he (Macron) is sponsoring the terrorist organisation, he receives them regularly at the Elysee (presidential palace),” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu.
Ankara views the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has fought an insurgency inside Turkey for the past 35 years and is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
“Let Macron not forget… Turkey is also a member of NATO. That it stands by its allies,” he added.
Earlier Thursday, after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, a combative Macron took aim at Turkey over its unilateral decision to attack the YPG.
“I respect the security interests of our Turkish ally, which has suffered numerous attacks on its soil,” Macron said.
“But you cannot on the one hand say we are allies and demand solidarity in that regard and on the other hand present your allies with the fait accompli of a military operation that endangers the actions of the anti-IS coalition of which NATO is a member.”