France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday told his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu that the relationship with the European Union could only improve if Ankara clarified its position on several subjects.

“On the eve of the European Council on December 10 and 11, the minister recalled the French and European requirements for clarifications, which are a necessary condition for the resumption of a constructive relationship between Turkey and the European Union”, foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement after a phone conversation between the foreign ministers.

The relationship between the two countries has worsened after France’s president Emmanuel Macron vowed to crack down on Islamic radicalism, following the killing of Samuel Paty, a history teacher, for showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on free speech.

Paty was beheaded by Abdoulakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin who was born in Moscow. That prompted Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accuse Macron of unfairly targeting France’s Muslim community, and fueled the latest diplomatic spat between the two NATO allies.

On Wednesday, France’s government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that the country will continue its fight against Islamic extremism despite criticism from Erdogan, and will not give in to “destabilization and intimidation attempts”.


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