While U.S. President Joe Biden took the centerstage at his first NATO summit last month and German Chancellor Angela Merkel got some of the limelight for her last such appearance, a little-noticed piece of theater was playing out in the wings: The alliance’s most antagonistic members were making nice. Meeting in Brussels, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to a “verbal ceasefire” during what French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described as a “recovery period” in their relations.
Le Drian’s marriage-counsellor terminology was entirely appropriate. The rancor and remonstrance that have characterized the Macron-Erdogan relationship stem from personal animus as much as geopolitical calculus. The Turkish leader has openly and repeatedly speculated about the mental health of his French counterpart, and Macron has accused his opposite of lying and failing to show respect for France, among other things.