Macron’s letter to Erdoğan to improve ties

(This article has been updated in paragraph 7 to include the French reaction)

French President Emmanuel Macron has sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, expressing his intension to improve two country’s relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced on late Thursday.

In his reply letter to Erdoğan’s new year message, Macron also declared his wish to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Çavuşoğlu said. Erdoğan agreed to meet President Macron and the initial meeting will take place via telephone or a videoconference, he added, Sabah reported on Friday.

The relations between France and Turkey has mainly deteriorated in the recent years especially over Libya and Syria conflicts, as well as Turkey’s disputes with Greece and Cyprus regarding their maritime and territorial claims in eastern Mediterranean. In addition to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the growing influence of Islamists in France and the empowerment of far-right Turkish ultranationalist organisation, the Grey Wolves across Europe, are amongst other critical issues between two countries.

Following his meeting with French Foreign Minister Le Drian, last week Çavuşoğlu has announced that France and Turkey will work on a roadmap to normalise ties.

Çavuşoğlu listed the roadmap under 4 main areas, such as bilateral consultations, the fight against terrorism, regional issues including Syria and Libya and educational cooperation, Sabah said.

In his “very positive” letter whose addressed President Erdoğan with his handwriting in Turkish as “Değerli Tayyip” (Dear Tayyip), Macron emphasized the importance of Turkey for Europe, Çavuşoğlu added.

Paris confirmed Macron’s letter to Erdoğan, the Voice of America reported on Friday.

Elysee sources cited by VOA said Macron had never refused dialogue with his Turkish counterpart but emphasised that the ball was now in Erdoğan’s court.

“Our attitude is clear, we need solid gestures,” one French source told VOA.