PARIS: France on Thursday condemned “declarations of violence” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and raised the possibility of new sanctions against Ankara.
Erdogan has been feuding bitterly with French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of geopolitical flashpoints and recently also France’s fight against radical Islam.
“There are now declarations of violence, even hatred, which are regularly posted by president Erdogan which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
Turkey vowed on Wednesday to “respond in the firmest way possible” to France’s ban of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves group linked to a top ally of Erdogan.
“It is not only France that is targeted, there is a total European solidarity on the subject — we want Turkey to renounce this logic,” Le Drian said.
The European Council, he added, has already decided to take measures against the Turkish authorities, and “now it is important for the Turks to take the necessary measures to avoid this.
“There are means of pressure, there is an agenda of possible sanctions.”
Turkey and France have been at loggerheads on the conflicts in Syria and Libia as well as a scramble for natural gas in the Mediterranean and more recently on Macron’s vow to uphold secular values, including the right to mock Islam and other religions, as part of a battle against extremism.
Erdogan has recently called for a boycott of French products, accusing Macron of islamophobia and advising the French leader to get “mental checks.”
President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for a strengthening of border controls in the EU’s Schengen zone following recent Islamist attacks in France and Austria.
Macron, speaking during a visit to France’s border with Spain, said that France alone will bolster its border controls by doubling police numbers to 4,800.
The increased controls would target illegal immigration amid “a growing terrorism threat,” he said.
“I am in favor of an in-depth re-foundation of Schengen to re-think its organization and beef up our common border security,” Macron added.
France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, has been hit by a string of militant attacks in recent years.
A knife-wielding Tunisian man beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice on Oct. 30.
France has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools, and France’s security alert is at its highest level.