By Hajer M'tiri
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said his upcoming visit to France will improve bilateral relations.
In an interview with French broadcaster LCI ahead of his one-day visit to Paris, Erdogan said Turkey and France will “take important steps” on economy and politics.
“France and Turkey have many important steps to take politically, strategically and economically,” the Turkish president said.
Erdogan, who is due to meet his French counterpart in Paris on Friday, said his relationship with Macron had "a good start".
“I will make my first visit to Europe [since the beginning of the year 2018] to [meet] my friend Emmanuel Macron.”
The two leaders have already met at international summits, but Friday marks Erdogan’s first official visit to Paris since the election of the French president.
The Turkish president also noted that he had “excellent” contacts with former French presidents, including Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, during his 15 years in power.
“Now with Mr. Macron we are in a new era, we had a good start with Mr. Macron when it comes to regional and bilateral issues,” Erdogan said.
“The steps we took until now with Mr. Macron are all in the right direction and I have a lot of hopes in Mr. Macron, especially as we have trilateral cooperation among Turkey, France and Italy, in the field of the defense industry,” he added.
- Fight against Daesh
Speaking about the fight against Daesh terrorist organization, Erdogan said Turkey remains “very sensible” on the issue.
He noted that “a great number” of foreign fighters coming from Syria have been arrested and sent back to their countries of origin.
“We have deported around 5,600 foreign fighters and banned entry of nearly 54,000 others to Turkey,” the Turkish president said and added this resolve will continue in the future as well.
Erdogan also mentioned the U.S.’s use of the PKK/PYD in Syria. The PKK/PYD, also known as the YPG, is the Syrian wing of the PKK.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. and EU. In its more than three-decade terror campaign against Turkey, over 40,000 people have been killed, including women and children.
The PKK/PYD’s ties with the U.S. have been a longstanding complaint for Turkey, which has been subjected to a decades-long terror campaign by the PKK.
Erdogan noted that the U.S. has sent nearly 3,000 trucks full of weapons and armored carriers and tanks to PKK/PYD.
“Even today, the American soldiers and the members of the terrorist organizations continue to take photos side by side.
“American flags are unfortunately flying next to the flags of those terrorist groups. It is unacceptable,” the Turkish president added.
- Street protests in Iran
Speaking on the issue of recent street protests in Iran, Erdogan said he had spoken with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
“I talked with Mr. Rouhani on the phone and […] the situation will stabilize within a day or two, there's no need to be worried about, that's what they told me," Erdogan said.
“Obviously some people from abroad are provoking this situation,” Erdogan said. “People from abroad should not meddle in internal affairs [of Iran].”
Last Thursday, Iranians took to the streets in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising inflation and perceived government mismanagement.
These demonstrations were followed on Saturday and Wednesday by large pro-government protests.
At least 23 people have been killed -- including a police officer -- while hundreds more have reportedly been detained.
* Handan Kazanci contributed to this story from Istanbul.