Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron Photograph:( Agencies )
Ties between Turkey and France, both NATO members, have been particularly tense in recent months over policy differences on Syria and the publishing of caricatures about Prophet Mohammad in France
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said he hoped France would soon get rid of President Emmanuel Macron, describing him as a burden on France which was enduring dangerous times.
"Macron is a trouble for France. With Macron, France is passing through a very, very dangerous period. I hope that France will get rid of Macron trouble as soon as possible," Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
There have been weeks of tensions between France and Turkey, which reached a peak last month after the beheading of a French schoolteacher who showed his pupils cartoons mocking Islam's Prophet Mohammed.
In the wake of the beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty in France, President Emmanuel Macron delivered a passionate defence of free speech, including the right to mock religion, prompting Erdogan to question his mental health. France responded by recalling its ambassador to Ankara for consultations.
In an interview, Macron accused Turkey of adopting a "bellicose" stance towards its NATO allies, saying tensions could ease if Erdogan showed respect and did not tell lies.
Following a spate of Islamist attacks in recent weeks, France has been taking steps to ban radical Islamist groups and to cut off foreign funds to them.
Ankara and Paris have also traded accusations over their roles in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Erdogan attacked France over its perceived backing for Armenia.
Erdogan also said "As you know, my dear brother (Azerbaijan president) Ilham Aliyev had some advice for the French. What did he say? 'If they love Armenians so much, then they should give Marseilles to the Armenians'. I am making the same recommendation. If they love them so much, they should give Marseilles to the Armenians."
France has accused Turkey of fueling clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians. Ankara, which backs its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan, denies this.
The Macron government is reportedly leading a diplomatic effort for sanctions against Turkey at the European Union. The plan is to target Turkey over its provocations in the eastern Mediterranean which is a region rich in natural resources where Greece and Turkey have overlapping claims.