'Verbal ceasefire' between France, Turkey: Paris

'Verbal ceasefire' between France, Turkey: Paris
2 min read
18 June, 2021
Following the meeting of Turkey and France's leaders on the sidelines of the NATO summit this week, Paris' Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said a "verbal ceasefire" was in place between the countries
France's top diplomat said his country was particularly eager to work with Turkey over Libya, where Ankara sent troops backed to bolster the UN-backed government [Anadolu Agency via Getty]

A "verbal ceasefire" is in place between France and Turkey after months of rancorous exchanges that strained the relations of the NATO allies, the French foreign minister said Friday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron met on the sidelines of the NATO summit this week, following the rows on international crises such as Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh that led to sharp personal rebukes from the Turkish leader.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM television that he welcomed the change in tone but said he expected it to be matched by more concrete steps from Ankara.

"There is a kind of verbal ceasefire. That's good but it's not enough," he said.

"The verbal ceasefire does not mean acts, and we expect Turkey to act on sensitive subjects," he said, citing Libya, Syria and also the Eastern Mediterranean, where France has backed EU members Greece and Cyprus concerned about Turkish advances in the waters.

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Le Drian also said France was particularly eager to work with Turkey over Libya, where Ankara sent troops backed to bolster the UN-backed government.

Macron claimed earlier this year that Turkey would try to meddle in France's 2022 presidential election.

He has suggested that Ankara's unilateral moves on the international stage and its purchase of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia have contributed to a "brain death" of NATO, where Turkey is a key member.

A new law against Islamist extremism the French government introduced after a series of attacks also angered Erdogan, with the Turkish leader accusing France of Islamophobia.

Erdogan last year said Macron needed "mental checks" and expressed hope that France would "get rid of" Macron as soon as possible.

But there have been tentative signs of easing tensions in recent months, with Erdogan keen to strengthen links with Turkey's Western partners at a time of growing economic challenges at home compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In another sign of warming ties, France this week removed Turkey from its red list of countries off-limits for non-essential travel, effectively allowing fully vaccinated French tourists to holiday there.