Turkey ready to normalize relations with France, FM Çavuşoğlu says

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by Daily Sabah with AFP

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu listens during a meeting with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon, Jan. 7, 2020. (AA Photo)

Turkey is ready to normalize relations with France despite continued bilateral tensions over several issues, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday.

The top diplomat also added that he had a “very constructive phone conversation” with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“We agreed that we should work on a roadmap to normalize the relations,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters after a meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon.

Portugal has just taken over the EU’s rotating presidency.

“If France is sincere, Turkey is ready to normalize ties,” he underlined.

Relations between Turkey and France have deteriorated over the Eastern Mediterranean, but the two allies disagree on other major issues, including the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ankara and Paris previously traded barbs after French officials in 2018 met with the leaders of the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian branch, 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. Commentators have argued that President Emmanuel Macron is trying to distract from his political failures at home.

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 and French President Macron’s anti-Muslim statements, which have been strongly criticized by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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