Macron says Erdoğan pursues an "expansionist policy that mixes nationalism and Islam"

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French President Emmanuel Macron said his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pursuing an "expansionist policy" that "mixes nationalism and Islam" that is not only "incompatible with European interests", but is the opposite. "Europe's destabilizing factor," he said in an interview published today.

"Europe needs to see the facts and take responsibility," Macron said in an interview published in Paris Match magazine. "I am not in favor of escalation. But on the other hand, I do not believe in weak diplomacy. We have sent a message that European solidarity makes sense," said the French head of state, who is due to receive German Chancellor Angela Merkel today at the Fort de Brégançon, in southeastern France, the French presidents' summer residence.

Erdoğan called the actions by countries resisting Turkey's aggressive Mediterranean policy as "piracy" on Wednesday. This comes as unilateral hydrocarbon exploration by Ankara has escalated tensions, especially with Greece.

Without naming it directly, Erdoğan spoke out against the French government, as relations between Ankara and Paris became increasingly strained recently.

France announced last week the deployment of two warships and two war jets to the eastern Mediterranean as a sign of practical support for Athens, which has reportedly caused some inconvenience to the German government, although the Elysee assures that there is "no fundamental disagreement" between Paris and Berlin.

Erdoğan, despite his harsh words, appeared ready for dialogue, but added that he expects "steps" from his interlocutors "in order to reduce tensions".

"France is a Mediterranean power," Macron said in the interview with Paris Mats, adding that his country has no "unambiguous relationship with Turkey."

"I am one of the few European leaders who have welcomed Erdoğan in recent years, in Paris, in January 2018. Many have criticized me. He is undoubtedly one of the foreign leaders I have talked to the most. I personally went to Istanbul in September 2018 and took the initiative for a joint meeting of France, Germany and the United Kingdom with Turkey, in London, in December 2019," Macron said.