President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a new jab at his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, whom the world came to see as a "problem child" at the London summit. In an address at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ministers of Social Affairs Summit in Istanbul, Erdoğan criticized Macron for associating Islam, which literally means peace, with terrorism. “At the NATO summit, the French president dared to talk about ‘Islamic terrorism.’ The word Islam means peace. I have repeatedly told him: How can you use peace and terrorism in the same phrase to talk about Islamic terrorism? There are now the ‘gilets jaunes’ in Paris. I dare you to solve [this problem] and stop them. Why can’t you?”
The French president, renowned for his romantic view of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian component, applies double standards when it comes to countering terrorism. He conveniently turns a blind eye to the organization’s atrocities, including deliberate attacks on the civilian population, and concludes that France and Turkey simply cannot agree on the definition of terrorism. Emmanuel Macron’s eagerness to mix Islam and terrorism is no unwitting mistake either. Currently seeking to boost his resume by becoming an influential European leader, the French president has a highly problematic approach to Islamophobia, a very serious, rampant problem in the old continent. Ironically, one would expect France to be the first European nation to push back against the rise of far-right movements, which feeds off anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, in the continent. Today, Europe suffers from a dangerous shortage of leadership. Emmanuel Macron lacks the power to lead the European Union after Brexit and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s imminent departure. To make matters worse, the French president’s image has been tarnished by a series of serious problems: Having failed to implement desperately needed reforms on the home front, Macron tried, unsuccessfully, to reach a higher level of popularity by picking on Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Macron’s administration finds itself in deep trouble now, as a fresh wave of strikes has brought France to a standstill right after the NATO leaders' meeting ended.
Unfortunately, the leadership crisis in the European Union is extremely unlikely to end in the foreseeable future.
About the author
Burhanettin Duran is General Coordinator of SETA Foundation and a professor at Social Sciences University of Ankara. He is also a member of Turkish Presidency Security and Foreign Policies Council.