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France/Turkey – Turkey/EU membership/EU-Turkey agenda – Armenian genocide

Publié le July 11, 2012
Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, during his joint press conference with Mr Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs (excerpts)
Paris, July 5, 2012

FRANCE/TURKEY

THE MINISTER – (…) First of all I want to tell you how pleased I am to welcome to the Quai d’Orsay my friend Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, a great country with which France has a tradition of friendship. We want to take a new step in this tradition of friendship, because my friend has come here in that framework. It’s a new step in the relationship between Turkey and France.

In recent times, there have been several very positive contacts between the top Turkish and French leaders. In May, the French President met President Gül in Chicago, and in June he met Prime Minister Erdoğan in Rio. Each time I was by his side, and I was able to testify to the excellent nature of those contacts. We had a series of meetings with Ahmet Davutoğlu, particularly on 6 June in Istanbul, during a meeting on Syria.

In the few dozen minutes we spent together, we reviewed the big issues of the moment, the great regional and international priorities. We talked about our bilateral relations.

Of course, the priority of the moment is the situation in Syria. France and Turkey’s positions are extremely close, and our discussions are enabling us to prepare as well as possible for the meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People group, to be held tomorrow with about 100 countries. (…)

In an unstable regional context, Turkey, who is our ally and friend, is a pole of stability and a major player. That’s why our discussions on all the current issues are important. We examined the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process. We also reviewed the international situation. Of course, we talked about the European Union, and France is determined – and I think it’s what Turkey wishes – to examine in total good faith the future of relations between Turkey and the EU.

We also reviewed Franco-Turkish relations. Political dialogue, which has been very much limited to the Syria issue, will resume and extend to all fields. A number of visits are going to take place, including at the highest level. We’re paying close attention to the fields of foreign trade and culture.

We’re lucky enough in France to have a large Turkish community, which is a link between our two countries. And because I don’t want to go on too long, I’d like to say that on the issues on which there may have been disagreement between Turkey and France in recent times, we are, for our part, determined to tackle them in total good faith by seeking to find solutions that will really enable us to begin a new period, on all levels, in relations between Turkey and France.

TURKEY/EU MEMBERSHIP/EU-TURKEY AGENDA

Q. – You said you’ve started a new chapter. What are the concrete measures relating to Turkey’s EU membership? Is France ready to lift the blocks placed by M. Sarkozy on the five chapters [in EU accession negotiations]? What will the procedures be if you are ready?

THE MINISTER – That question is totally pertinent. Turkey is an extremely important partner for both the EU and France. Her role in regional crises is absolutely crucial. So it’s natural for this question to be asked. I told the Turkish Foreign Minister that, as we do in various fields, the new French government is in the process of examining a number of issues inherited from the previous leaders, and that the essential thing – and it’s what our Turkish friends wish – is to continue the discussions in good faith, while taking past commitments into account. We’d like to overcome the difficulties of recent years.

On the question you ask, the Turkish Foreign Minister and I agree. Ultimately, things will depend on the people’s decision.

Apart from that, we support the European Commission’s implementation of the so-called positive EU-Turkey agenda, which was confirmed last December and which will, we hope, enable us to move forward together. It’s in this positive spirit of good faith that we’re going to tackle together all the issues connected with relations between Europe and Turkey.

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Q. – Unless I’m mistaken, the issue you discussed in bilateral relations concerned the Act on denial of the Armenian genocide. I’d like to know if the French government today has clearly committed itself to ensuring there’s no recurrence of such a bill.

THE MINISTER – Issues of remembrance are very delicate issues for political leaders. France, in particular, is very well placed to know that.

On this issue, as you know, the Constitutional Council, which is the supreme jurisdictional body in France, decided that the bill presented by a deputy was contrary to our constitution: that’s what was decided. So it’s not possible to go back over the same path, otherwise the result will obviously be the same.

What we hope for is reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, and we’ll obviously support any efforts made in that direction. We’d also like – I was discussing it with Ahmet – a development of the historical debate, whether it be in Turkey or France, to ease the tensions. We want people to be able to get over that episode, which was understandably very difficult to live through, in both Turkey and France. And here too, we want to approach in good faith – that’s the phrase and the method we agreed on – the new period that’s beginning for Turkey and France./.