Turkey has stopped insulting France and the European Union, providing some reassurance, but ties will remain fragile until it takes concrete action, France’s foreign minister said.
Ankara has repeatedly traded barbs with Paris over its policies on Syria, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and other issues, but the Nato members said in February they were working on a road map to normalise relations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday as part of those efforts.
“There aren’t any more insults and the language is more reassuring,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing late on Tuesday.
He said that the removal of Turkish research vessels from Cypriot waters in the eastern Mediterranean and Ankara showing a desire to resume talks with Greece over a long-standing maritime dispute were positive signs.
“It’s fragile, because the list of disagreements is very long, but we want a healthy relationship with Turkey,” he said pointing to differences over Libya, Iraq and Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Actions are needed and we will be able to position ourselves when those actions are carried out. For now it’s just verbal action,” he said.
'Macron is trouble for France'
Earlier in December, Erdogan had said that he hoped France would get rid of Emmanuel Macron as soon as possible in what was the latest salvo in an escalating war of words between the two leaders.
The spat had risen to new levels in the past couple of months as France moved to crack down on extremism after several attacks on its soil.
“Macron is trouble for France. With Macron, France is passing through a very, very dangerous period. I hope that France will get rid of Macron trouble as soon as possible,” the president had told reporters in Istanbul.
In September, Macron’s comments on the simmering eastern Mediterranean standoff, which pitted Turkey against Greece and the rest of the EU, drew Ankara’s wrath. “The people of Turkey, who are a great people, deserve something else,” Macron had said while discussing Erdogan’s approach to the crisis.
Macron subsequently told Al-Jazeera in October that France’s wish was for the situation to “calm down” but for that to happen, it was essential that the “Turkish president respects France, respects the EU, respects its values, does not tell lies and does not utter insults”.