France recalled its ambassador to Turkey on Saturday for ‘consultation‘, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech saying that French president Emmanuel Macron needs’ psychiatric treatment’.

“President Erdogan’s statements are unacceptable,” said Macron’s spokesman. “Insult is no way.’

What is also involved, as the Elysée press office said, is that the Turkish government has not spoken a word of condolence after the murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty by a young Muslim extremist.

The withdrawal of the ambassador is the provisional climax of a long-suffering deterioration in relations. France and Turkey face each other in various international conflicts. Macron is also, within the European Union, the most important and fiercely representative of the wide-ranging criticism of Turkey.

In recent weeks, Turkish indignation has focused in particular on the measures taken by the French government to curb ‘Islamic separatism’ and other forms of radicalism. According to Ankara, this will only fuel racism, islamophobia and xenophobia.

It also came up in Erdogan’s speech on Saturday at a meeting of his AK Party in the city of Kayseri.

“What can you say of a head of State who treats millions of members of a religious minority in this way? Especially this: get your mental health checked out.” Turkish television sent out the excerpt.

Last week’s beheading in Paris led to criticism in Ankara of the way in which the French government reacted following the terrorist attack, with the attack on radical mosques and Islamic organisations. Once again, the argument that Paris is merely feeding xenophobia and exacerbating social contradictions was the argument.

“Freedom, equality, brotherhood, except for Muslims,” was the title of Hilal Kaplan’s column on Friday in the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah. The rest of the page is filled with the article ‘Macrons crisis with Islam’.

In November last year, Erdogan had already insulted Macron. In response to the French president’s statement that NATO is ‘brain-dead’, his Turkish colleague replied: ‘Macron himself should have a look at whether he is not brain-dead.’

The ‘context’ is the reason why the reaction is stronger now, as the Elysée heard. The number of dossiers in international politics in which Ankara and Paris are diametrically opposed has increased. Last year it was mainly Libya and Syria. In March, the Turkish threat (partly executed) to open the ‘gate to Europe’ to the millions of refugees in Turkey came.

In the summer, there was a conflict over gas reserves and maritime zones in the Mediterranean, in which France strongly and with the help of naval vessels sided with Greece. Then fighting broke out around the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey supports Azerbaijan, France opts for Armenia.

“Erdogan’s insults and provocations have continued throughout the summer,” says the Elysée. Apparently, the “rude” speech at Kayseri on Saturday was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

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