Paris (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron will raise human rights issues with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan when they meet next Friday, the Elysee said on Saturday.
Erdogan’s visit to France comes as he faces widespread criticism over a far-reaching crackdown against opponents linked to last year’s failed coup attempt, which has seen the arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and activists, and led to accusations of human rights abuses.
The meeting “will be an opportunity to discuss issues related to bilateral relations between our two countries, as well as regional issues including a particular focus on the Syria issue… but also the on the Palestinian issue,” said the Elysee, adding that “the issue of human rights” would be discussed.
Earlier on Saturday, Erdogan announced he would travel to France to discuss bilateral relations in a televised speech to members of his ruling AKP party.
After a year of particularly strained ties with European countries, Erdogan has recently expressed hope for a better relationship with the EU, telling Turkish journalists on Thursday: “I always say this. We must reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends.”
Erdogan launched a huge purge of state institutions after the attempted coup in July 2016; more than 55,000 people have been arrested since then and human rights groups have regularly reported accusations of torture and abuse.
A French journalist, Loup Bureau, who was detained in a Turkish prison for more than seven weeks on “terror” charges, returned to France in September after Macron appealed to Erdogan for his release.
Also in September, Macron said that “Turkey has objectively moved away from the European Union in recent months, with disturbing drifts that can not remain without consequence,” in an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini.