Washington hopes for easing of tensions in Turkey, France row

The United States on Tuesday voiced hope that NATO allies France and Turkey would ease tensions that have soared in a row over France’s stance on radical Islamists on the heels of the brutalkilling of a teacher, AFP reported.

“The United States strongly believes that unnecessary Alliance infighting only serves our adversaries,” it cited a U.S. State Department spokesperson as saying, without further commenting on the row or the merits of Ankara's criticism of Paris.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday called on Turks to boycott French goods as relations between the NATO allies deteriorated over French President Emmanuel Macron’s stance against radical Islam in the afermath of the beheading of a teacher in France by an extremist over the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression.

Turkey’s strongman on Saturday had said that Macron had a problem with Islam and Muslims and needed an evaluation of his mental health, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara.

Macron has vowed to crack down on what he called Islamist separatism in the country after France was rocked by the beheading of Samuel Paty on Oct. 16.

French economists are downplaying the threat posed to French exports by the Erdoğan-led call to boycott the country’s products across the Muslim world, France24 reported on Tuesday.

The "foolish" boycott is bad news for French companies already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, "but there is no question of giving in to blackmail," France24 cited the head of France's MEDEF employers' federation, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, as saying.

"It is a question of sticking to our republican values (...). There is a time to put principles above business," he added.

The Erdoğan-led boycott has seen French goods being pulled from supermarket shelves in Qatar and Kuwait, among other Gulf states, France 24 said, while the French foreign ministry has urged Middle Eastern countries to prevent the boycotts, saying the calls are being pedalled by a "radical minority".

Arms exports account make up the bulk of French trade with countries like Qatar and Kuwait, according Frédéric Encel, a professor of geopolitics at the Paris Business School, and such contracts cannot be halted by any mosque or NGO, he told French daily Le Parisien.

“For most Muslim countries, the European Union is a more important trade partner than China, the United States or India. They cannot risk incurring sanctions from their principal trading partner,” Encel said.