Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is signaling he wants to mend strained ties with several European nations, saying Turkey is forced to "decrease the number of enemies and increase friends."

In comments published in Hurriyet newspaper on Thursday, Erdogan describes the leaders of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium as "old friends," calls recent contacts with them "quite good" and notes that they share Turkey's views on Jerusalem.

Ties frayed after authorities in some European nations prevented Turkish government ministers from holding political rallies to court expat votes ahead of a referendum in Turkey. Erdogan aimed a series of insults at his allies accusing European officials of racism, harboring terrorists and behaving like "Nazis."

European nations have also balked at the deteriorating state of human rights and democratic institutions in Turkey.