France’s Macron sends letter to Turkey’s Erdoğan voicing hope to enhance bilateral relations


French President Emmanuel Macron sent a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stating his intent to improve bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced Friday.

According to Çavuşoğlu, who spoke to journalists on his return from an official visit to Pakistan, Macron underlined Turkey’s importance for Europe and his will to develop positive ties in the letter.

Çavuşoğlu pointed out that the two leaders could soon talk via videoconference or a phone call to discuss relations as well as regional issues, including the fight against terrorism, Libya and Syria.

Turkey’s top diplomat last week in a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon gave signals of warming ties and stated that Paris and Ankara have been working on a road map to normalize relations and that “it has been going well … If France is sincere, Turkey is ready to normalize ties with France as well.”

Turkey has repeatedly traded barbs with France over policies in Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in France.

The spat has risen to new levels in recent months as France has moved to crack down on some Muslim groups after several attacks on its soil.

Ankara and Paris previously traded barbs after French officials in 2018 met with the leaders of the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian affiliate, the YPG.

The two countries are also on opposing sides in Libya, where Ankara backed the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli against a 2019 offensive by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar. France is suspected of supporting Haftar, but officially insists it is neutral in the conflict.

Turkish officials have decried France’s interference in the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, given it has no territory in the region. France accused Turkish warships of aggressive behavior after its warship tried to inspect a vessel in June that it suspected was violating a U.N. arms embargo on Libya, but Turkey has denied harassing the Courbet. The two countries’ dispute escalated further after France sent naval assets into the Eastern Mediterranean to support Greek warships shadowing Turkish ones in disputed waters.

Last month, the EU prepared punitive measures over Turkey’s dispute with members of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration over rights to offshore resources in the Eastern Mediterranean but decided to postpone the measures until March despite an earlier push by France to sanction Ankara.

After months of tensions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed their differences in a phone call in September, agreeing to improve ties. But, the two presidents later traded accusations over a host of issues as tensions flared again.