Erdogan to Paris, Seeking Better Ties with Europe

President Erdogan travels to Paris on Friday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron while Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be heading to the hometown of his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, on Saturday in a bid to patch up ties.

The visits come a week after Erdogan voiced hope that Turkey could mend fences with several European nations, declaring that his country “must decrease the number of enemies and increase friends.”

Ties between Ankara and some European nations were already at a low over Turkey’s stalled EU membership negotiations. Tempers flared after authorities in several countries last year prevented Turkish government ministers from holding political rallies to court expatriates’ votes in a referendum to amend the constitution. Erdogan unleashed a series of insults at his allies, accusing European officials of racism, harboring terrorists and behaving like Nazis.

In an interview with French broadcaster LCI ahead of his one-day visit to Paris, Erdogan said Turkey and France will “take important steps” on economy and politics.

“France and Turkey have many important steps to take politically, strategically and economically,” the Turkish president said.

Erdogan, who is due to meet his French counterpart in Paris on Friday, said his relationship with Macron had “a good start”.

“I will make my first visit to Europe [since the beginning of the year 2018] to [meet] my friend Emmanuel Macron.”

The two leaders have already met at international summits, but Friday marks Erdogan’s first official visit to Paris since the election of the French president.

The Turkish president also noted that he had “excellent” contacts with former French presidents, including Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, during his 15 years in power.

“Now with Mr. Macron we are in a new era, we had a good start with Mr. Macron when it comes to regional and bilateral issues,” Erdogan said.

“The steps we took until now with Mr. Macron are all in the right direction and I have a lot of hopes in Mr. Macron, especially as we have trilateral cooperation among Turkey, France and Italy, in the field of the defense industry,” he added.