Erdogan urges cooperation against terrorism in Macron call

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) at the Elysee Palace ahead of the international ceremony for the Centenary of the WWI Armistice of 11 November 1918, in Paris, 11 November 2018. [EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron he wants their countries to cooperate to fight terrorism, as Ankara moves to ease tensions with Paris.

The two leaders, who have clashed over a range of issues including the conflicts in Syria and Libya as well as the eastern Mediterranean, spoke in a video call on Tuesday (2 March) for the first time since September.

According to a statement by the Turkish presidency, Erdogan told Macron their countries “can contribute significantly to stability and peace” in Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Africa.

“There are also measures that we can take together… against terrorist organisations,” Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“Turkey wishes to cooperate with France in all these areas,” he said, adding that Turkish-French collaboration had “great potential”.

The conversation comes after raised tensions between the two countries and heated exchanges between the two presidents, with Erdogan repeatedly suggesting that Macron get “mental checks” and urging the Turkish people boycott French-labelled products.

But in recent weeks Erdogan has sought to lower the temperature with the European Union against a backdrop of economic challenges.

On Tuesday Erdogan stressed that the French-Turkish “friendship” has “overcome numerous obstacles” since the 16th century during the reign of French king Francis I and Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

However the Turkish statement did not mention the fate of more than a dozen French teachers at Istanbul’s Galatasaray University whose work permits have been held up and who face the threat of expulsion due to the diplomatic spat.

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