Macron warns Turkey might meddle in future French elections
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Turkey could interfere in France’s elections. The comments come as the two countries appear to be trying to ease tensions that have built up over the last several months.
"Clearly there will be attempts at interference in the next election,” Macron said in the interview broadcast Tuesday evening in a documentary on French public television. “It’s written, and the threats are not veiled.”
He did not say if he was referring to regional elections this June or presidential polls next year, or both. And he did not explain how it would be done, only saying that Turkey would be "playing on public opinion".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was accused of meddling in Germany’s 2017 election when he called on Turkish Germans to vote against Angela Merkel’s party.
Erdogan said in December that he hoped France would "get rid of" Macron as soon as possible, describing him as "trouble" for the country.
He has called France out on Islamophobia, and critised Macron over a French law aimed at cracking down on radical Islam.
Macron said Erdogan had distorted what he had said about Islam in a speech about Islamic separatism in October.
"My comments were falsified and France was presented as a country with a problem with Islam," Macron said.
He blamed Turkish state-run media of spreading lies, which were also taken up by “certain large channels controlled by Qatar,” making reference to Al-Jazeera.
Macron’s interview aired at the start of a talk show devoted to Erdogan and his relationship with Europe. It was recorded on 2 March, after the two presidents had spoken via video link, in an attempt to ease tensions.
In the interview Macron said he had noted that Turkey was working to improve relations since the start of the year, but he said it would be difficult unless it changed its behaviour.
He acknowledged that Europe had to continue to work with Turkey, to make sure it does not “turn its back on Europe and go towards more religious extremism or geopolitical choices that are bad for us.”
He said Europe must work with Turkey to address the millions of Syrian refugees living within its borders.
"If one day we say we are not working and discussing with them any more, they will open their doors and you will have three million Syrian refugees in Europe," he said.
Europe’s relationship to Turkey will be on the agenda of this week's meeting of Nato foreign ministers, and a report on Turkey's relationship with Europe will be presented at an EU summit at the end of the week.
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