President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is heading to the French capital today for an official visit, which will at the same time mark the priorities of Turkish diplomacy for the year 2018.
Meeting at Palais de l'Elysee, French President Emmanuel Macron and Erdoğan will discuss the Jerusalem conflict and Syria in addition to a long list of bilateral topics.
In the aftermath of Jerusalem diplomacy followed by Turkey soon after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, a serious base was established in the international spectrum for broader cooperation between states with a common vision regarding Jerusalem and problems in the Middle East.
Turkey and France are two countries that have a common vision on a number of issues such as Syria, Jerusalem and the fight against global terrorism.
The agreement between the two presidents also contributes a lot to relations between the two countries, as the two leaders are in contact regularly. During international summits, Erdoğan and Macron have found opportunities to meet head to head. Economic relations, namely energy and defense, compose an important element in bilateral relations. Some important defense industry deals and energy projects can be expected to be reached between Ankara and Paris, which can also be interpreted as an answer to allegations that Turkey had shifted to an axis with Russia in its defense industry.
The European Union is also one of the major topics of discussion between the two countries in light of recent efforts by Macron for EU reform. The migration issue also needs to be considered by the two politicians, since Turkey had a lot to share with France in the migration crisis.
As Macron plans to present a draft law on immigration in April, he is faced with serious protests in his country because of his tough stance on the issue.
To reduce the number of migrants arriving in his country, Macron had already taken preliminary actions to put a barrier in front of new arrivals. Lodging centers and refugee camps were dispersed by security forces, and even basic needs of the migrants, such as hygiene, were prevented from being met.
However, as the country with the most refugees in the world, Turkey has a lot to contribute to the French vision for refugees. In the final analysis, it is not only France, but also the totality of the EU that needs to cooperate with Turkey to tackle the crisis.
Another challenge that Macron faces this year is the fight against terrorism, for which collaboration with Turkey is, again, essential. Following a months-long state of emergency, Macron is working on new legislation regarding the fight against terrorism. The French president is very well aware of the importance of Turkey's role concerning the international war on terrorism.
Macron plans to visit a number of countries in the coming months in an attempt to conduct a multilateral foreign policy, according to French news reports. He will visit China soon after Erdoğan is in Paris, and he is also scheduling a trip to Iran. Russia is also among the countries Macron plans to visit. To become a key player regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, France's young leader will take more independent steps than his European colleagues. Putting the prejudices of his predecessors aside, Macron took the opportunity for a different approach in international politics.
Additionally, in the light of recent statements by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu regarding Turkish-German relations in which he declared that Turkey wants to improve bilateral relations, we can talk about a new, positive phase in Berlin-Ankara interactions.
However, from the timing of the visit to the variety of topics to be discussed during the meetings, the rendezvous in Paris can become a starting point for the amelioration of ties not only between Ankara and Paris, but also for the EU and Turkey.
So, 2018 has begun with more hope for Turkey's relations with two key European countries and the EU in general. We have enough reasons to be optimistic, as Erdoğan has made positive remarks regarding the short-term future of Turkey's ties with Brussels and other EU capitals: "We would like to increase the number of our friends and reduce the number of enemies."
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