KABUL, Afghanistan

A veteran Afghan mujahideen leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Friday blasted the French president’s recent remarks against the Turkish government over the Mediterranean drilling dispute.

In a Friday sermon at a mosque in his party headquarters in Kabul with hundreds of people attending, the Hezb-e-Islami party leader said Emmanuel Macron’s controversial remarks stem from fears that Turkey would emerge as a stronger nation by using resources in the Mediterranean by 2023.

“We assure the faithful and vigilant people of Turkey that, God willing, these conspiracies will be thwarted. The believing people of Turkey and its noble leadership should not be afraid of sanctions and threats,” said the former prime minister.

Turkey on Thursday condemned Macron over his “arrogant” remarks made with “colonial reflexes”. In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Macron endangers EU interests with his “individual and nationalistic stance”.

Earlier on Thursday, ahead of a summit of southern EU member states, Macron reportedly said: “We must be tough with the Turkish government and not with the Turkish people, who deserve more than the Erdogan government.”

“Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region,” said the French president, claiming NATO ally Turkey had some unacceptable encounters with a French ship off the coast of Libya.

The ministry added that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of the leaders in Europe elected with the largest winning vote.

“This is a requirement of our Europeanness and our NATO Alliance,” the ministry said, referring to Turkey and France both being members of NATO.

Regional tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast. Macron has interceded in support of Athens, despite lacking any Eastern Mediterranean coastline.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

Dialogue for sharing these resources fairly would be a win-win for all sides, say Turkish officials.

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