Turkish officials have dismissed French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticisms regarding Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria, saying that the French leader is a “protector of terrorists.”
“We are fighting against terror. He is the protector of the terrorist organization. He keeps hosting them in Elysee,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 28, referring to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey perceives as a terrorist organization due to it being the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“If he’s saying ‘My ally is a terrorist group,’ we also have an answer to that. Macron should not forget that Turkey is a NATO ally, just like [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel says. He should stand by its allies,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Macron said that Turkey could not expect solidarity from NATO allies when it launched its offensive in northeast Syria as a “fait accompli.”
France and Turkey have been at odds over the latter’s Syria offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, with Macron repeatedly criticizing NATO over failing to prevent the incursion that he previously called “madness.”
Last month, Macron met Jihane Ahmed, the spokeswoman for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG is the backbone, to express France’s solidarity with them in their fight against ISIS in Syria.
Çavuşoğlu also said that Macron seeks to become the leader of Europe.
“There’s a void in Europe and Macron is trying to be its leader, but this is an artificial behavior. Leadership can be established with natural moves and politics, as well as leadership skills. It can’t be done with these artificial statements or actions that are out of his depth,” he said.
Another Turkish official to slam Macron was the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik, who said that the French leader was the person most bothered by the offensive.
“Macron was the person most bothered by Turkey’s operations that prevented the establishment of terror states in northern Syria. He is also the one that hosts terror group’s leaders the most,” Çelik tweeted on Nov. 28, adding that Macron’s disturbance with the operation draws everyone’s attention.
“Macron’s remarks on Syria are about him wanting to keep France’s colonialist past in Syria alive with fancy sentences. That’s why he can go as far as supporting terror,” he also said.
Referring to Macron’s recent remarks on NATO experiencing brain death, Çelik said that those criticizing Turkey’s struggle against terror are those struggling to make NATO brain dead.
“We will constantly remind them of the fact that they need to protect democratic values,” he added.
Çelik also said that everyone knows that Turkey is an indispensable part of NATO, but France is criticized over its contributions to the alliance.
“Everyone knows that NATO can’t be without Turkey,” he said.