Macron slams Erdogan’s ‘reckless, dangerous’ statements on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 01 October 2020

Macron slams Erdogan’s ‘reckless, dangerous’ statements on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

  • Macron condemned Turkey’s statements backing Azerbaijan in its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh

JEDDAH: French President Emmanuel Macron lashed out on Wednesday at Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “reckless and dangerous” backing of Azerbaijan’s attempt to retake the breakaway region of Nagorny-Karabakh.

Echoing earlier remarks by the Turkish president, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey would “do what is necessary” if Azerbaijan asked for military support in the conflict with Armenia.

“I have noted Turkey’s political statements, which I think are reckless and dangerous,” Macron said.

“France remains extremely concerned about the warlike comments that Turkey made … which essentially remove any inhibitions from Azerbaijan in what would be a reconquest of northern Karabakh. That we will not accept.”

HIGHLIGHT

Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other for fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday and have caused nearly 100 deaths.

He also appeared to voice support for Yerevan: “I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role.”

But Macron also said it was too soon to speak of a regional conflict.

He said he would discuss the tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening and US President Donald Trump on Thursday before reporting on the situation to the European Council of EU leaders.

Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other for fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday and have caused nearly 100 deaths. Armenian media said three civilians were killed and several wounded by shelling on Wednesday in Martakert.

One person was killed and three wounded by Armenian fire on Horadiz in southern Azerbaijan, the Azeri prosecutor’s office said, raising Azeri civilian deaths to 15.

Azerbaijan released footage showing smoke rising from inside Nagorno-Karabakh as it was pounded by Azeri artillery. Photographs taken in the Azeri town of Terter showed people taking cover in dugouts, and buildings damaged by Armenian shells.

Azerbaijan said ethnic Armenian forces attempted to recover lost ground by launching counterattacks in the direction of Madagiz, but Azeri forces repelled the attack.

Armenia said the Azeri army had been shelling the whole front line during the night.


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 47 min 31 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.