French, Turkish leaders discuss bilateral, EU, regional issues

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday hosted his Turksih counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks at the Elysee Palace which dealt principally with bilateral, regional and European Union issues and outlined differences on rule of law issues and the impact on Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Macron said that there were “disagreements” regarding “invidual freedoms” and the respect for rule of law in Turkey, even though the French leader said he understood the “context” of Turkey’s fight against terrorism and the security imperatives of that country.

Given the current situation, Macron said he saw that “no progress is possible” in Turkey’s move to join the 27-nation European Union because of the repressions following a failed coup d’etat in Turkey in 2016.

“Recent developments and choices do not allow for progress in this process,” the French leader said.

Macron also said that he had brought up several cases with Erdogan with relevance to France’s desire to see rule of law and democratic principles respected in Turkey. These included mass arrests at the University of Galatasaray which France has helped sponsor and he also refered to his personal intervention to secure the release of two French journalists detained for months in Turkey.

The question of the University of Galatasaray is “an essential pillar of our bilateral cooperation” and Macron insisted that this issue is of importance to France.

He also broached the issue of the arrest of several Turkish journalists and leaders of NGO groups in Turkey. The French leader said he had “transmitted a list (of names) to President Erdogan” and these cases continued to be discussed. He further spoke out for the defence of rule of law and democracy as he said this was also a crucial element in the fight against terrorism.

Given the current situation, Macron said he saw no potential membership for Turkey of the European Union and that a “partnership” accord would be more suited to the context at this time.

He vowed to continue a “demanding dialogue” with Ankara and to continue to develop ties that could benefit both nations.

For his part, the Turkish President said in the press conference that the process of joining the EU had lasted 54 years and Turkey was an exceptional candidate and he did not understand why Turkey was continually blocked as the process evolved.

“We are seriously tired with this process,” he affirmed, adding that Turkey may be forced to make a decisoin regarding the EU process.

At the same time, he said that cooperation between France and Turkey on the fight against terrorism was “exemplary” and economic cooperation was also on the right track and had reached Euros 20 bilion, annually.

He called for better solidarity on the level of trade relations between the two nations

Source: Kuwait News Agency