The Turkish and French presidents discussed eastern Mediterranean tensions, bilateral ties, and relations between Ankara and the European Union.

France's President Emmanuel Macron gestures next to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a photo opportunity at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019.
France's President Emmanuel Macron gestures next to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a photo opportunity at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. 

The conversation on Tuesday by telephone, is the first time the two leaders have spoken since tensions flared over a dispute in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey and Greece have competing claims to energy exploration in the region, and France has been backing its fellow EU member state. 

In the call, the Turkish and French presidents discussed the eastern Mediterranean, bilateral ties, and relations between Ankara and the EU. 

Earlier, Ankara and Athens agreed to restart negotiations over their disagreements.

READ MORE: Turkey and Greece to meet in Istanbul for eastern Mediterranean talks 

The phone call came after top leaders from Turkey, Germany, and the European Union held a video conference focusing on recent tension in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Erdogan expects 'constructive' steps from Macron

In a statement, Turkey's Communications Directorate said Erdogan had told his French counterpart that Turkey advocates dialogue and cooperation to solve problems.

During the conversation, Erdogan stressed that ignoring the legitimate rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean is the reason for tension in the region. 

Erdogan also noted that diplomatic opportunities should be utilised and sustainable negotiation processes implemented to reduce the tension, the statement added. 

Ankara "wants to discuss and solve all problems on the table," he said. 

According to the statement, Erdogan expects a "constructive" attitude from Paris and favours consultation and communications between Turkey and France for the sake of a regular mechanism.

The French foreign ministry said the call had lasted over an hour, and it hoped a dialogue between Turkey and Greece could continue.

It said Macron had called for a similar approach with Cyprus issue.

"He (Macron) urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty of European Union member states as well as international law, and to refrain from any further unilateral action which could provoke tensions," the French foreign office said, adding that Macron and Erdogan had agreed to keep in contact.

Erdogan added that it is important to see "constructive dialogue and cooperation" at next week’s EU Leaders Summit for possible solution of regional issues.

The meeting, originally set for this week, was postponed to October 1-2 due to a coronavirus infection close to an EU official.

READ MORE: Greece denies deal on NATO-brokered talks with Turkey on east Mediterranean

France: EU ready for dialogue with Turkey

Earlier, while addressing the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Macron said Europe is ready for dialogue with Turkey on the issue of the eastern Mediterranean.

“We respect Turkey. We are ready for dialogue. But we expect Turkey to respect European sovereignty, international law, and to provide clarification about its actions in Libya and in Syria,” said Macron.

Macron said a commitment to effective, clear dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean is necessary “to avoid a new space of confrontation which would jeopardise international law.”

“What we need is respect for international law and cooperation, respect between allies,” he added.

Tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean because of the maximalist claims of Greece which has been enjoying the support of France against Turkey. 

READ MORE: Erdogan: 'Ambitious but incapable' Macron cause of mayhem in France

Source: TRTWorld and agencies