Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signalled he wants to mend fences with the governments of several European nations heâ€™s quarrelled with this year, saying Turkey must â€œdecrease the number of enemies and increase friends.â€
In comments published on Thursday in Turkeyâ€™s Hurriyet newspaper, Erdogan described the leaders of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium as â€œold friends,â€ called recent contacts with them â€œquite goodâ€ and noted that they, like Turkey, oppose a controversial US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israelâ€™s capital.
â€œWe have no problems with Germany, or with the Netherlands or Belgium,â€ Erdogan told journalists on his return from a trip to Africa. â€œOn the contrary, those in power there are my old friends. They have wronged me, but thatâ€™s another matter.â€
Ties between Ankara and some European nations frayed after authorities in several countries prevented Turkish government ministers from holding political rallies to court expat votes ahead of a referendum in Turkey earlier this year over giving Erdogan expanded powers.
Erdogan aimed a series of insults at his allies accusing European officials of racism, harbouring terrorists and behaving like â€œNazis.â€
European nations also have balked at the deteriorating state of human rights and democratic institutions in Turkey, especially in the wake of last yearâ€™s failed military coup.
Erdoganâ€™s government embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on opponents, arresting around 50,000 people and purging more than 110,000 public sector workers.
A state of emergency declared after the coup attempt allows Erdogan to rule by decree, often bypassing parliament.
Several German or German-Turkish nationals, including a prominent journalist, have been jailed on terror-related charges as part of the crackdown, further damaging ties with Berlin.
Turkey blames the coup attempt on followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The cleric has denied masterminding it.
Erdogan also said he hopes to visit France and the Vatican in the new year.