Erdogan Threatens NATO Partner France: ‘Don’t Mess with Turkey’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech following a cabinet meeting, in Ankara, on June 9, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his French counterpart and NATO ally Emmanuel Macron on Saturday “not to mess” with Turkey, as the two continue to spar amid rising tensions in the Mediterranean.

In a speech Saturday, Erdogan claimed that French President Emmanuel Macron was targeting him with hurtful rhetoric and denigrating the “might” of the Turkish people.

“Don’t mess with the Turkish people. Don’t mess with Turkey,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul on the 40th anniversary of the 1980 military coup.

“You will have many more problems with me,” he added, as France 24 reports.

On Friday, Marcon said Europe needed to be “clear and firm” with Erdogan’s government as the two continue to be at odds over an arms embargo for Libya and over the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, where Paris is supporting Greece and Cyprus, who say Turkey is looking for natural resources in their waters.

Turkey says it has equal rights to the resources in those waters and rejects all criticism from Cyprus over its conduct in the region.

As Erdogan issued his warning to Macron on Saturday, Greece’s prime minister outlined plans to upgrade the country’s defense capabilities, including purchasing new fighter planes, frigates, helicopters and weapons systems.

In an annual state of the economy speech, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece would obtain 18 new French-made Rafale fighter planes to replace its aging Mirage 2000 fighters, buy four navy helicopters and four new frigates and was refurbishing another four frigates.

France welcomed the Rafale acquisition, the first by a European country.

“Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly welcomes the choice announced today by Prime Minister Mitsotakis to acquire 18 Rafale aircraft,” a statement by France’s Armed Forces ministry said late Saturday.

“This choice…strengthens the link between the Greek and French armed forces, and will allow them to intensify their operational and strategic cooperation,” the statement said, adding that a contract will be signed “in the coming months.”

AFP contributed to this story

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