PRESIDENT ERDOGAN IN SURPRISE VISIT TO FRANCE




Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE) President Erdogan is to visit France on 5th January to discuss bilateral relations between Turkey and France.

In a televised speech, The Turkish president said ‘I will go to France on Friday. We will discuss bilateral relations’. However official sources in France have indicated that Syria will be high on the agenda as well as the question of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Perhaps in preparation for the visit, Erdogan a few days ago, made some of his harshest comments in weeks regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling him a terrorist and saying it was impossible for peace efforts in Syria to continue if he did not leave power.

Official French sources have said that ‘the question of human rights will be raised’.

It is the first visit to France by the Turkish President since the failed putsch of 15 July 2016 and the election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France in May 2017. However, the two men have met at international summits.

The Turkish President first mentioned the possibility of a visit a few days ago.

The announcement comes against a background of stationary negotiations for Turkish EU membership, a full-blown political crisis with Germany and Turkey’s distancing itself from NATO.

Unlike Angela Merkel, President Macron has not called for the EU negotiations to be terminated. Expressing himself more cautiously in an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathermarini in September, he talked of wishing ‘to avoid ruptures’ between the EU and Turkey who he described as ‘an essential partner’ on a number of issues particularly the migration crisis and the fight against terrorism.

However, Macon added that ‘Turkey has obviously distanced itself from the European Union in recent months in ways that cannot remain without consequences for the customs union for example’.

Unlike Germany and Holland, France did allow the Turkish Foreign Minister to hold an electoral meeting in Metz in France during the Turkish constitutional referendum campaign.

The two presidents have regularly discussed the arrest of French journalists Loup Bureau and Mathias Depardon, now released, and recently held in Turkey on charges of being a member of a ‘terrorist organization’ and promoting ‘terrorist propaganda’ respectively.

In another sign of goodwill towards countries that are less quick to criticize, Turkey has recently signed a contract for the purchase of ground air missiles with the Franco Italian company Eurosam. This came after the Turkish agreement to buy air defense missiles from Russia, the first NATO country to do so.

President Erdogan said this week that he wanted to have good relations with the European Union and with the countries of the European Union with a view to ‘reducing the number of enemies and increasing the number of friends’.