Macron to discuss fraught ties with Turkey’s Erdoğan prior to NATO summit

French President Emmanuel Macron said he will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss their fraught bilateral relations just ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels on Monday.

“The two sides had profound disagreements but need to continue to talk," Macron told reporters in Paris, Agence France-Press reported on Thursday. French complaints included Turkey’s “unilateral operations”, he said.

Relations between Macron and Erdoğan soured last year over policy towards Syria, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. The two leaders also traded barbs over Islam’s role in French society.

Macron said that he also disagreed with Turkey’s purchase of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia, which are incompatible with NATO’s systems.

"When we are members of the same organisation, we cannot decide to buy equipment that does not allow interoperability, we cannot decide to carry out unilateral operations which are against the interests of the coalitions that we have built," he said.

Macron and Erdogan engaged in an escalating war of words in September. The French leader said the Turkish people “deserve more than the Erdoğan government”, while Erdoğan told him “not to mess with the Turks,” saying that he needed a “mental check”.   

Turkey criticised a French bill targeting radical Islam in October, and in December, France led calls for the European Union to sanction Turkey over territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus.

In March, Macron said Turkey may try to interfere in France’s presidential elections, scheduled for 2022.

Ankara's unilateral moves on the international stage and purchase of Russian S-400s have contributed to a "brain death" of NATO, Macron has said.

Turkey purchased the S-400 air defence system from Russia in 2019, leading to a deterioration in its relations with the United States and NATO. Washington has excluded Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme and imposed sanctions against the country’s defence procurement agency.



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