Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Wednesday accused French President Emmanuel Macron of trying to discredit Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying Turks are smarter than Macron, CNN Türk reported.
Macron on Monday strongly criticized the removal of cover posters of Le Point magazine that described Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a dictator from kiosk billboards by a group of Turks in Avignon, France.
“It is totally unacceptable for @LePoint posters to be removed from kiosks because they do not please the enemies of freedom in France or abroad. Freedom of the press has no price: without it, it is dictatorship,” Macron tweeted.
Claiming that the French president’s remarks are part of a campaign to discredit Erdoğan inside and outside Turkey ahead of a June 24 presidential election, Bozdağ said while in Yozgat province: “Turkish people are smarter than Macron, smarter than those engaged in political engineering.”
Stressing that individuals who try to discredit Erdoğan will not be able to take him from the Turkish people’s hearts, Bozdağ said: “People love the president and appreciate him. Our nation will give the best answer to both Macron and to those who make this same kind of simplistic calculation.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik also joined Bozdağ in criticizing the French president.
“Democracy is not imposing the insults, curses and lies of one side, but also taking the views and sensibilities of the other side into consideration. Anything beyond that is hypocrisy. The democratic and civil reaction of the Turkish community in France is all about this,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted, directly quoting Macron’s Twitter message.
Accusing Le Point of disseminating black propaganda and perpetrating hate crimes, Minister Çelik tweeted on Tuesday: “Since when have hate crimes and open insults meant freedom of the press? Would Macron approve if the same style of hate speech and black propaganda were used against him?”
A video shared on social media on Friday evening shows a group of Turkish-speaking people having a discussion with Médiakiosk workers who put the Le Point poster on a kiosk billboard in Pontet, Vaucluse, near Avignon. The workers then started to remove the poster.
The cover of Le Point with a photo of Erdoğan reads “The dictator. How far will Erdoğan go?”
Le Point said it requested that the promotional poster be returned to the display case, which it was two hours later, and the booth was placed under police surveillance, Euronews reported.
Another case of Le Point promotional posters being destroyed was reported in Valencia.
President Erdoğan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, on Friday tweeted about Le Point’s cover: “A French magazine called President Erdoğan a dictator. We know these attacks. We know their goals. Our nation and all oppressed nations see what is going on. The days when Turkey took orders from you are over. You cannot bring those days back by calling [Erdoğan] a ‘dictator’.”
Burhan Kuzu, a senior member and deputy of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday called Macron an “enemy of Turkey” and “enemy of Muslims,” along with other leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.