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Turkish gov’t carrying out project to expand political Islam, Macron says

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French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government is carrying out a project to expand political Islam, which doesn’t comply with European values, local media reported on Friday, citing an interview by French daily Le Parisien.

When asked about Turkey’s membership in the European Union, Macron said the politics pursued by Erdoğan were aggressive and didn’t comply with European values.

“Turkey is carrying out a project to expand political Islam. It does not recognize Cyprus, which is an EU member. It’s pursuing an aggressive policy in the eastern Mediterranean,” Macron said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to an abortive coup engineered by the then-military junta in Athens that aimed to unite the island with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC).

The eastern Mediterranean was at the center of escalating tensions in 2020 between Turkey and Greece after Ankara sent a research vessel into disputed waters.

The move came after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories agreed to create the East Mediterranean Gas Forum without Turkey in 2019, and Egypt then signed a maritime agreement with Greece that laid claim to some areas covered in a separate pact Turkey struck with Libya around the same time.

The French president also said he would like Turkey to have a relationship with Europe because if the country adhered to European values, it could no longer distance itself from Europe.

Turkey’s relations with the EU date back to 1963. The country was named a candidate in 1999, and negotiations for full membership started in 2005. The EU has suspended talks with Turkey due to the EU’s unhappiness with what the union has described as a decline of democratic norms in the country.

Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has its roots in political Islam, have long been accused by critics of seeking to erode the country’s secular principles.

President Macron, on the other hand, conducts policies with the aim of cracking down on Islamic extremism, which he blames for a series of deadly terror attacks in France since 2015.

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