French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of working with ISIS proxies, as he commented on Ankara’s military offensive in northern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I’m sorry to say, we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” Macron told reporters on Dec. 3 at a news conference alongside U.S. President Donald Trump, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on Turkey expecting NATO to designate YPG as a terrorist group.
“When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies,” Macron added.
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 YPG, which it sees as terrorists due to the group being the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
The incursion was slammed by Turkey’s Western allies, mainly because the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was Washington’s main ally in the fight against ISIS.
During the press conference, Macron also dismissed a call by Trump for Paris to bring home its foreign fighters, saying that was not the priority. He said the focus needed to be on tackling ISIS, which had still not been defeated.
“Let’s be serious: The very large numbers of fighters you have on the ground are the fighters coming from Syria, from Iraq and the region,” Macron said, adding that those coming from Europe are “a tiny minority of the overall problem.”
Trump, sitting beside Macron, then told reporters: “This is why he’s a great politician, because that’s one of the greatest non-answers I’ve ever heard.”
Trump says he is looking at sanctions against Turkey over S-400 missile deal
During the press conference, Trump said that he was looking at imposing sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile system, blaming his predecessor for not selling Ankara a U.S. missile system.
Trump was asked whether he would issue sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of the S-400 missile system.
“We are looking at it now, and we’re talking about it now,” he told journalists.
“As you know Turkey wanted to buy our Patriot system and the [former U.S. President Barack] Obama administration wouldn’t let them, and they only let them when they were ready to buy another system.”
Macron, however, criticized Turkey, saying “How is it possible to be a member of NATO and buy S-400 military system from Russia? Technically this is not possible.”
Macron stands by ‘brain death’ remarks
When asked to address his much-debated comments on NATO being “brain dead,” Macron said he stands by them.
“My statement created some reactions,” Mr. Macron said. “I do stand by it.”