President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks regarding Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria, saying that he should “check his own brain death.”
“He is saying ‘NATO is brain dead.’ Mr. Macron, I’m addressing you from Turkey. I will also say this in NATO. You should check whether you are brain dead. These statements would suit those who are brain dead as yourself,” Erdoğan said during a ceremony in Istanbul on Nov. 29, referring to Macron’s recent remarks on NATO being “brain dead.”
Macron on Nov. 28 said that Ankara could not expect solidarity from NATO allies when it launched its offensive in northeast Syria as a “fait accompli,” starting a fresh row between France and Turkey ahead of the NATO summit in London on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.
Last month, the French leader said that the military alliance was experiencing “brain death” because of American unpredictability under President Donald Trump and strained ties with Turkey.
“Some people started talking before we headed there. Some countries that are used to winning and who never take risks can’t tolerate Turkey’s efforts to protect its own rights, borders and sovereignty. French President’s recent statements are an example for this sickly and shallow understanding,” Erdoğan said.
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.”
Turkey launched its offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a terrorist group due to it being the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
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.
During his speech, Erdoğan said that Macron fails to fulfill his obligations towards NATO, adding that he brags when it comes to bragging.
“You don’t even pay for the money you need to pay to NATO properly, but when it comes to boasting, you boast,” he also said.
“[The issue of] Removing Turkey from NATO or not. How dare you? Do you have the authority to make that decision?” Erdoğan said, adding that the French leader should overcome his inexperience.
‘What business do you have in Syria?’
Saying that Macron doesn’t know the fight against terrorism, Erdoğan noted that it’s the reason for why Yellow Vest protesters “occupied” the entire France.
“Why can’t you solve it? You can’t. Aren’t they your own citizens?” he asked.
The Turkish President also slammed Macron over French presence in Syria.
“We have a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria. We have the right to enter Syria as part of the fight against terror. Under which deal are you entitled to enter there? What business do you have in Syria? What are you doing there? If you’re there as part of the coalition forces, we are also in that,” Erdoğan said, adding that France doesn’t have the right to be in Syria.
“The regime didn’t invite you,” Erdoğan also said.
During his speech, Erdoğan said that Turkey is the most important member of NATO with its military contributions and political support.
“Our country, with this strategic importance of it, contributes to the protection of Europe,” he added.
France to summon Turkish envoy
Shortly after Erdoğan’s speech, a French presidency official said that France’s Foreign Ministry will summon Turkey’s ambassador following the Turkish President’s “insulting comments.”
“On the latest excesses by the Turkish president, these are not statements, these are insults,” the official said. “We are expecting president Erdoğan to clarify.”