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France welcomes verbal truce with Turkey

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greet each other during a joint press conference in Paris, France on 5 January 2018 [LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images]
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greet each other during a joint press conference in Paris, France on 5 January 2018 [LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images]

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday welcomed what he described as the end of verbal altercations between Paris and Ankara, and demanded in return real initiatives from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a series of contentious issues.

Le Drian told BFM TV: "There is a truce in verbal attacks. It is a good thing, but it is not enough," considering that the bilateral ties between the two sides are "in a stage of recovery".

He added: "Ending verbal attacks does not mean actions, and we expect actions from Turkey on sensitive files, especially in Libya and Syria, as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Cyprus file."

"We will see if President Erdogan has changed more than just his words, but also his actions," the minister noted.

After months of rising tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Turkish counterpart on Monday in Brussels in a "calm atmosphere", and they both pledged to "work together" on the Libyan and Syrian files, according to statements issued by Paris.

Read: Macron says talks vital with Turkey's president despite differences

France and other countries are calling for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries deployed in Libya, in order to consolidate rising hopes to achieve peace in the country. The United Nations (UN) estimated the number of foreign forces and mercenaries to be around 20,000 at the end of 2020.

The issue has been closely related to the Turkish forces and Syrian mercenaries deployed by Turkey on Libyan soil, as well as mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group.

Le Drian confirmed: "There is a certain degree of openness, and we will start working with the Turks on the issue of Libya, especially the militias because they support the deployment of militias."

Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, where an incident occurred between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel, Paris stood in Athens's favour against Ankara's gas exploration ambitions.

In October, Erdogan said Macron needed "mental checks", accusing him of inciting a "hate campaign" against Islam because he defended offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his speech against what he labels as "Islamic extremism" in France.

Since the beginning of the year, Turkey has intensified its rapprochement initiatives with Western and regional allies in order to break its increasing isolation on the regional and international scenes.

Read: France NGO financing Syria militia guilty of war crimes, report says

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