Focus on Libya as Turkish and French FMs meet in Paris
PARIS – The foreign ministers of Turkey and France on Monday held talks in Paris, in a rare high-level meeting after months of tensions over international crises and French domestic legislation against radical Islamism.
During the meeting, the two sides reiterated the need to respect the political transition’s roadmap in Libya that will lead the country to stability and elections.
They also called for translating the ceasefire in Libya into action, according to a statement by the French Foreign Ministry.
The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey and France share some priorities in Libya, such as the stability and political unity of the country, support for the Government of National Unity (GNU) exercising its power throughout the country and for the reunification of institutions, a lasting ceasefire, as well as the fight against terrorism and irregular migration.
In an op-ed for the French daily L’Opinion, Cavusoglu added that Ankara was open to dialogue on issues of common interest in Libya, whose stability affects the entire region.
France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted Cavusoglu for talks ahead of NATO and EU summits later this month, the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
In addition to Libya, the two ministers discussed Syria, the Mideast peace process and NATO cooperation, including “the values and principles that sustain the (NATO) alliance,” it said.
“We aim to strengthen our relations with France on the basis of mutual respect,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
Tensions between Paris and Ankara have been running high after a series of public rows between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Emmanuel Macron, who warned in March that Turkey would meddle in the 2022 presidential elections.
The pair have locked horns over a series of international crises including Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Macron has suggested Ankara’s unilateral moves on the international stage have contributed to a “brain death” of NATO, where Turkey is a key member.
A new law against Islamist extremism which the French government introduced after a series of attacks also aroused Erdogan’s ire, with the Turkish leader accusing France of Islamophobia.
The relationship between Macron and Erdogan hit a low last year when the Turkish leader said his French counterpart needed “mental checks.”
Erdogan in December then expressed hope that France would “get rid of” Macron as soon as possible, describing the president as “trouble” for the country.
But there have been tentative signs of an easing of tensions in the last months, with Turkey reaffirming its commitment to EU integration.
Meanwhile a UN-led peace process that saw a new interim unity government installed in Libya earlier this year has also removed a major point of conflict between Paris and Ankara even as Macron insists that all Turkish forces must leave the country.
“Everything must be done to ensure that the political, security and electoral transition calendar is respected and that the ceasefire is translated into reality,” the French foreign ministry said on Libya.