The Grey Wolves are affiliated with political allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
PARIS — France wants to “dissolve” the Grey Wolves, an ultranationalist organization affiliated with political allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Monday.
The group “deserves to be dissolved, meaning the directors can no longer meet, claim to meet, or take action on their behalf, or if they do so they can be fined,” Darmanin told lawmakers during a hearing.
Darmanin said he would formally propose the group’s dissolution on Wednesday during the weekly Council of ministers.
The announcement comes after a memorial to the Armenian genocide was defaced in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, this weekend with slogans including “Grey Wolves” and “RTE,” Erdoğan’s initials. The Grey Wolves were also linked to marches last week during which Turkish ultranationalist chanted threats against Armenians.
Turkey denies that the mass murder and expulsion of as many as 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians in 1915 constitutes genocide. Ankara is also a staunch ally of Armenia’s neighbor Azerbaijan, and has thrown its support behind Baku in the recent fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Grey Wolves, formally known as the Idealist Hearths, are a far-right organization with a long history of violence against minorities and leftists in Turkey. It’s also active in countries with large Turkish minorities.
The organization is affiliated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which in turn is allied to Erdoğan — whose hold on power partially hinges on the support of the ultranationalist party and its voters.
Darmanin’s announcement is likely to add to tensions between France and Turkey, which have surged in recent months.
Already at odds over issues ranging from the civil war in Libya to energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, ties between the two countries deteriorated sharply in the aftermath of the murder of Samuel Paty, a French teacher beheaded after showing his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, and President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on countering Islamist extremism in France.
Erdoğan reacted by questioning Macron’s mental health and called for a boycott of French products, triggering a backlash from European leaders.
Some European countries have taken action against the Grey Wolves, though no other EU member has banned it. In Austria, the Grey Wolves’ salute was banned in 2019; in Germany, the domestic security agency has labeled the group as far-right extremist.
Additional reporting by Zia Weise.