Turkey ready to normalize relations with France: Turkish FM
Turkey and France are working on a roadmap to normalize ties, and talks are going well, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 7, adding that Ankara was ready to improve relations with its NATO ally if Paris showed the same willingness.
Çavuşoğlu noted that he had had a “very constructive phone conversation” with French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“We agreed that we should work on a roadmap to normalize the relations,” he told reporters after a meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon.
“We have been working on an action plan, or roadmap, to normalize relations, and it has been going well... If France is sincere, Turkey is ready to normalize ties with France as well,” he stated.
Turkey and France had repeatedly traded barbs over the former’s policies in Syria, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as, over the publication of inappropriate cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in France. Paris has led a push for EU sanctions on Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu said that current tensions between the NATO allies stemmed from Paris “categorically” opposing Turkey since Turkey’s 2019 offensive into northeast Syria against the YPG group.
“Turkey is not categorically against France, but France has been against Turkey categorically since Operation Peace Spring,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkey has been embroiled in a series of disputes with its EU partners, but Ankara has softened its rhetoric recently.
Çavuşoğlu stated that relations with the European Union as a whole would benefit from a “better atmosphere.”
At an EU summit last month, the EU leaders decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions in response to Ankara’s prospecting for gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
Last month, the EU prepared punitive measures over Turkey’s dispute with Greece and Greek Cyprus over rights to offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean. France was among the Eu states urging for sanctions against Ankara. But the block decided to postpone the measures until March.
The Turkish foreign minister’s visit to Lisbon comes just after Portugal has taken over the EU’s rotating presidency. Çavuşoğlu traveled to Spain on Jan. 8 after he visited Lisbon.
In another sign of calming down tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Çavuşoğlu said Turkish and Greek foreign ministers were planning to meet in the coming weeks.
“There is a window of opportunity for better dialogue with Greece, right now. And we are planning to meet with a Greek foreign minister who is personally a good friend of mine, Nikos Dendias, in the coming weeks,” Çavuşoğlu said.