French President Emmanuel Macron today accused Turkey of working with ISIS proxies and again described NATO as being ‘brain dead’.
Macron said Ankara needed to clarify ambiguities around the forces it was working with on the ground in Syria during NATO meetings this week.
He insisted there must be no ‘ambiguity’ toward ISIS, saying that Turkey’s actions against the Kurdish militias that helped the allies fight the jihadist group showed the need for better coordination.
Macron, who will meet Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later in the day ahead of the summit in Watford, also said he stood by comments he made last month alleging that NATO is strategically ‘brain dead’.
The French president was speaking at a news conference alongside President Donald Trump when he made the comments.
He told reporters today: ‘The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I’m sorry to say, we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table.
‘When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.’
Macron also dismissed a call by Trump for Paris to bring home its foreign fighters, saying that was not the priority.
He said the focus needed to be on tackling Islamic State, which had still not been defeated.
The French president said: ‘We have lost cooperation with Turkey, on security and trade and migration and European Union and France.’
Macron added that two clarifications must be made at the NATO summit this week.
‘How is it possible to be a member of the alliance, to work with – to be integrated and buy things from Russia?’ he asked, referring to Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system.
And secondly, he said it would have to be asked whether Turkey wants to remain a member of NATO if Erdogan makes good on a threat to delay Baltic defence measures unless allies declare the Kurdish militia terrorists.
During the same press conference, Trump said his French counterpart gave ‘one of the greatest non-answers I have ever heard’.
In response to a question posed to Trump by a US journalist who asked whether France should do more to take ISIS fighters captured in the Middle East, the US president said he would pass that question on to Macron, asking him in a light-hearted tone if he would like ‘some nice ISIS fighters’.
The French president gave a long answer, in which he argued that foreign fighters from European countries were a small minority among ISIS troops, and that it would be unhelpful to focus on them rather than on the broader problem.
He said the priority was to finish the war against the militant group.
‘This is why he is a great politician because that was one of the greatest non-answers I have ever heard, and that’s OK,’ Trump said.