PARIS—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday made his first visit to Europe since a failed coup in 2016 by visiting Paris for talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
His visit comes as Turkey’s relations with the European Union are strained since the are expected to take in Turkey’s fraught ties with the EU.
Turkey and the EU have been engaged in a diplomatic spat after the EU strongly criticised Turkey for mass arrests in the country linked to the failed coup.
Erdogan seeks to improve his country’s relations with Europe.
The Turkish government declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt and launched a huge crackdown on state institutions.
More than 55,000 have since been arrested, including journalists, lawyers, academics and opposition politicians.
Just before arriving in Paris, Erdogan accused the United States and Israel of meddling in Iran in the wake of protests in the country against the regime.
“We cannot accept that some countries — foremost the US, Israel — to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran and Pakistan,” the Turkish president told reporters.
“It is turning the people against each other in these countries. It’s a shame that we have seen this done in many nations… We saw this in Iraq.”
In the past week at least 21 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in anti-government protests and unrest, which were sparked by economic grievances. Thousands of people took part in pro-government rallies across 10 cities on Wednesday and Thursday with crowds marching in support of the Rouhani government.
The US has requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss “the troubling and dangerous situation” in Iran, the US Mission to the UN announced last night. The meeting was scheduled to take place Friday afternoon.
In a statement, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: “The world has witnessed the horrors that have taken place in Syria… that began with a murderous regime denying its people’s right to peacefully protest. We must not let that happen in Iran.”
Haley continued: “This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of international peace and security. It will be telling if any country tries to deny the Security Council from even having this discussion, just as the Iranian regime tries to deny its own people the ability to have their voices heard.”
Other UN Security Council members are divided in their views of the protests and could call a vote on whether to address the topic. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the US against “any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs” of Iran.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May called on Iran to facilitate a “meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protesters are raising”.
On Wednesday, President Macron said it was important to maintain dialogue with Iran, warning that the tone of comments adopted by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia toward Tehran was virtually a path to war.“The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war,” Macron told reporters.
France, he said, wanted to maintain some balance.
“Otherwise, we end up surreptitiously rebuilding an ‘axis of evil’,” he said.