Macron slams Turkey's 'imperial inclinations' as tensions continue to rise

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that Turkey had 'imperial inclinations', citing Ankara's behaviour in Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, which imperilled stability in the region, Al Jazeera reported.

Macron accused Turkey of adopting an aggressive stance towards its NATO allies. He said Turkey's intervention in Syria came as a surprise to the alliance, Ankara had not respected an arms embargo in Libya and was showing a “deeply aggressive” attitude in the eastern Mediterranean.

“I note that Turkey has imperial inclinations in the region and I think that these imperial inclinations are not a good thing for the stability of the region, that’s it,” Macron said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.

The tensions between France and Turkey have been escalating for weeks and it peaked last week when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan questioned the mental health of Macron. Erdoğan's remarks came after Macron said he would not allow radical Muslims in France who practice what the French leader termed “Islamist separatism” to cause problems anymore following the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told broadcaster RTL that Turkey made “the deliberate choice to instrumentalise” the killing of Paty, accusing Ankara of launching “a hateful and slanderous campaign" against France.

France has been intensifying for months its criticism of Turkish regional ambitions, especially those in Libya, where Ankara and Paris back opposite sides, and the eastern Mediterranean where France supports Greece and Greek Cypriots against Turkish maritime claims.

Turkey has backed the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in its fight against eastern-based forces allied to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by Russia, Egypt and France, among others.

France held military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean as the dispute between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent a survey vessel to disputed waters on Aug. 10.