ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Wednesday rejected French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestions that Ankara could seek to interfere in France’s next election by manipulating public opinion.
In an interview with France 5 television, Macron accused Turkey and Turkish state media of engaging in a “policy of lies” and of portraying France as having a “problem with Islam.”
“Obviously, by manipulating public opinion … there would be attempts to interfere with the next election,” Macron said. France is scheduled to hold a presidential election next year.
The statement came despite efforts by Turkey and France to ease tense relations that hit a low point after Erdogan accused France of Islamophobia and said Macron needed to undergo mental checks. The two countries have also sparred over other issues, including a dispute over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkey’s military intervention in Libya.
The two leaders held a video conference earlier this month, however, in a bid to end the friction.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy released a statement calling Macron’s claims “dangerous” and said Turkey’s only interest in French domestic politics concerned the well-being of Turks who lived in France.
“We find the claim made by Mr. Macron in such decisive terms … to be alienating toward foreign communities in the country and thus dangerous in this aspect,” Aksoy said.
“Turkey has no agenda regarding France’s interior politics apart from the welfare, peace and harmony of the 800,000-strong Turkish community living in that country,” he said.
Aksoy also expressed disappointment that Macron made the comments at a time when France and Turkey were taking steps to ensure that “tensions make way for calm and friendship.”
“We would like to remind France that Turkey will reciprocate any positive or negative stance or statements in the same way,” he said.