Turkey's deputy prime minister on Wednesday said there are people working to discredit President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the June 24 presidential elections.
Speaking to reporters in the central Anatolian province of Yozgat, Bekir Bozdag criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for defending a magazine which insulted Erdogan.
Macron on Monday objected to news agents taking down a poster showing this week's cover of Le Point magazine, which shows Erdogan with the label “dictator,” after local Turks protested the image.
"Turkish people are smarter than Macron, smarter than those engaged in political engineering," Bozdag said. "That is why I would like to say to those who are trying to discredit our president: You will be unable to take our president from our people's hearts."
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik have also condemned Macron’s stance.
"Democracy is not only about one side insisting on insults, swearwords, and lies, but is also about considering other sides' views and sensitivities," Cavusoglu said in a tweet.
“French magazine Le Point circulated a hate crime and attacked our president with dark propaganda,” Celik tweeted. “How long have hate crimes been freedom of the press? Is it proper for Macron when the same style, hate speech, and black propaganda are used against him?"