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'Dear Tayyip': Erdogan and Macron exchanged letters to repair ties

Turkish president made the first move, with the two leaders seeking to meet in person soon
France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on 28 June 2019. (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

The presidents of Turkey and France have exchanged letters to address their personal and regional differences, helping to create a roadmap to improve relations, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told a group of journalists on Friday.

Cavusoglu said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan first sent a letter to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to wish him a happy new year and convey his sadness over recent terror attacks.

Following the letter, the French government proposed four areas of collaboration: bilateral consultations, counter-terrorism, regional issues such as Syria and Libya, and a partnership on education, Cavusoglu added.

"Earlier this week we received Macron's letter. Very positive. Macron started his letter with a Turkish salutation, handwritten, 'Dear Tayyip'," Cavusoglu said. "Macron expressed his willingness to meet the president to deepen relations and discuss European [affairs]."

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Erdogan, according to Cavusoglu, would like to meet Macron in person, but first the two leaders are expected to talk soon via videoconference.

The move itself is a stark change for both sides, considering the personal attacks they levied on each other throughout the last year.

Erdogan just last month said that France needs to immediately get rid of Macron. He twice suggested the French president needed to undergo a mental health check because he was getting France involved in regional conflicts in which it had no interests.

And Macron over and over called for sanctions against Turkey's actions in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkish ships last year conducted seismic research in disputed seawaters.

The dispute intensified in October with Erdogan's call for a boycott of French products, following Macron's apparent support for Charlie Hebdo magazine's caricatures about the Prophet Muhammad.

Turkish officials would like to improve their ties with France due to the incoming Biden administration in the US, which is expected to have friendlier relations with Paris.

Erdogan has already made a series of overtures towards Israel, the European Union, Saudi Arabia and Greece to make room for manoeuvre, ahead of Biden's swearing in on Wednesday.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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