France believes that Turkey’s future should be in Europe, says Macron

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, attends a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, Jan.5, 2018. (Pool via AP)
Updated 05 January 2018
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France believes that Turkey’s future should be in Europe, says Macron

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron met on Friday in Paris. The pair discussed Middle East issues with a particular focus on Syria, as well as bilateral cooperation, including the joint Eurosam consortium between Turkey, Italy and France which will develop air- and missile-defense systems and is expected to reduce Turkey’s security vulnerabilities.
During Erdogan’s visit, an agreement was signed between ASELSAN, the prominent Turkish defense electronics company, and the Eurosam consortium.
At a meeting in Brussels in May, both presidents agreed to cooperate on counterterrorism efforts. Turkey and France have been primary targets of several Daesh terror attacks, and some 700 French nationals are believed to have joined the terror group in Iraq and Syria.
This common threat is forcing Ankara and Paris to collaborate on monitoring the activities of French militants who may try to return to their home country.
In an interview with French television prior to his Paris visit, Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s determination to crack down on foreign militants within its borders.
Turkey has deported about 5,600 foreign fighters so far, while 54,000 were barred from entering in the first place.
During his joint press conference with Macron in Paris, Erdogan said: “Turkey and its friends should fight together against terror groups Daesh, the PYD/YPG and the PKK.” The two latter are Kurdish groups which Turkey regards as terrorist organizations.

France and Germany have long opposed Turkey’s application for membership of the EU. But Turkey seems to have renewed emphasis on its membership bid in 2018 after years of strained ties. In an interview with France 24 on Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey considers the EU membership a “strategic aim,” and “wants to overcome the troubles and open a new page.”
Macron said, “France believes that Turkey’s future should be in Europe,” but stressed that it needed to apply rule of law and democratic standards.
Erdogan, however, firmly underlined that, after 60 years of “waiting at the gates,” Ankara would no longer request membership if the Union failed to deal with it “fairly.”
Erhan Icener, an academic from Istanbul Zaim University, considers the Paris meeting an important step toward normalization of Turkey-EU relations.
“Kalin’s recent statement to France 24 is significant, considering the high tension between Turkey and some European countries, and pessimism about the future of Turkey–EU relations since the July 15 coup attempt,” Icener told Arab News.
“Those in the EU who care about Turkey should opt for engagement rather than isolation,” he added
Iceren believes the pragmatic Macron is the right political figure to open dialogue between Turkey and the EU, which, he said, will help the Turkish government “explain its domestic steps and policies in the post-July 15 period to its European partners.”
However, experts warn against expecting too much from Erdogan’s visit.
“Any real progress for Turkey’s integration with the EU still depends on the political will on both sides,” Iceren said. “I expect the results of this meeting will not be limited to bilateral cooperation and dialogue between France and Turkey but extend to Turkey’s further integration with the EU.”
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of German Marshall Fund of the United States, agreed.
“Erdogan’s visit can facilitate cooperation between Turkey and France in areas ranging from economy to the Middle East,” he told Arab News.
While some expect Macron to play the role that Merkel played in Turkey before the fallout between Germany and Turkey, this is unlikely for two reasons, he suggested.
“First, the perception of Turkey in the EU is much worse than it was back then,” he said. “Second, Macron does not have the same influence that Merkel has in the EU. However, this visit could help reverse the vicious cycle in EU-Turkey relations.”


Turkey’s jailed pro-Kurdish candidate in first TV appearance for 20 months

Updated 17 June 2018
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Turkey’s jailed pro-Kurdish candidate in first TV appearance for 20 months

  • Selahattin Demirtas, who has been in detention for close to 20 months on security charges and faces a sentence of up to 142 years if convicted
  • One of Turkey’s best-known politicians, he has had to run his campaign mostly through social media

ANKARA: The jailed presidential candidate for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition made his first television appearance in over a year and a half on Sunday, giving a campaign speech ahead of next week’s elections.
Selahattin Demirtas, who has been in detention for close to 20 months on security charges and faces a sentence of up to 142 years if convicted, was nominated by his Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as a candidate last month.
One of Turkey’s best-known politicians, he has had to run his campaign mostly through social media from his prison cell in the northwestern city of Edirne, while Turkish media have been saturated with coverage of President Tayyip Erdogan and his ministers.
Speaking on state broadcaster TRT in a scheduled 10-minute address, to which he is entitled under election law, Demirtas said voting for Erdogan and his ruling AK Party would mean putting the fate of the country “between one man’s two lips.”
“The only reason I am still here is that the AKP is scared of me. They think tying my hands here and going from square to square spreading accusations about me is being courageous,” a visibly thinner Demirtas said.
“They are openly violating the constitution by declaring me guilty even though there is no conviction ruling against me, and are trying to direct the public by misinforming them,” he said.
The snap parliamentary and presidential elections on Sunday will herald the switch to the new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year.
In previous elections, Demirtas won votes beyond his core Kurdish constituency, and is likely to draw significant backing in the first round of the presidential vote, while boosting the prospects of his party entering parliament.
Demirtas’s HDP arranged a viewing of his speech in Istanbul’s Bakirkoy Square, where hundreds of supporters gathered to watch.
“You should have no doubt that I will be acquitted in front of the law as soon as possible. So long as the judicial authorities follow the superiority of the law and not the government’s expectations,” Demirtas said, as supporters cheered and waved flags.