Friday

30th Sep 2016

Hollande declines to open new EU chapter in Turkey

French President Francois Hollande opted not to unblock any more chapters in EU accession talks on a “historic” trip to Turkey.

EU officials late last year expected him to do it in order maintain a positive momentum after France lifted its veto on chapter 22, on regional policy, allowing the accession talks to restart in November.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Hollande (l) and Gul: The two sides also discussed French contracts for Turkey's nuclear power plants and railways (Photo: elysee.fr)

But Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in December shocked Europe by launching a crackdown on police and judges who tried to investigate high-level corruption.

He also tabled a law that gives him control over judicial appointments in violation of EU norms on judicial independence.

Hollande is the first French head of state to visit Turkey since Francois Mitterand 22 years ago

He said little on Turkey’s political crisis at a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, the increasingly authoritarian country’s more acceptable face, on Monday (27 January).

But when asked if he is ready to lift his veto on any of the four chapters still blocked by France, he said it would be better for Cyprus to lift its veto on chapters related to law and order.

“The chapters which I think should be under discussion are precisely those which concern the subjects which currently pose questions for Turkey - the separation of powers, fundamental rights, rule of law, justice,” he said.

With the Cypriot veto tied to the 40-year-old Cypriot-Turkish conflict, there is little prospect that Cyprus will take the step.

For his part, Gul noted that Franco-Turkish relations are “very positive” since Hollande took over from his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, an outspoken critic of Turkey’s EU accession.

But he urged EU states not to “hide” behind politics in the negotiations.

“It’s a technical process. We hope this technical process will not be harmed by political issues,” he said.

He noted that when the talks end, France, Austria and Turkey will hold referendums on whether it should join: “We don’t know what the people will say. We could end up like Norway [an EU partner, but not a member state]. We don’t know yet … We are in no hurry.”

Speaking in the context of last year’s unrest in Istanbul and Turkey’s mass-scale jailing of journalists, he added that: “There is no question of political instability in Turkey. There is a strong government in Turkey … Debates may be tough from time to time, but in a mature way.”

He described Turkey as “an open society” in which there are “no taboos” in the public debate.

Hollande and Gul also tackled Turkey’s denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide ahead of next year’s centenary.

France, under Sarkozy, adopted a law criminalising Armenian genocide denial, causing a rift with Ankara. But the bill was struck down by the constitutional court.

For his part, Hollande said only: “The task of remembering is always painful, but it must be done.”

Gul said that Turks also died in large numbers in World War I and that France slaughtered people in the Algerian revolution.

“It should be left to historians. We shouldn't revive these things,” he noted.

Opinion

The EU’s new offer to Africa

The European Commission’s plan for a multi-billion African investment vehicle is mainly another incentive for African leaders to give higher priority to border management.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAFinTech Boom Needs Strong Guidance to Navigate Regulatory Hurdles
  2. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  4. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  5. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  6. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  7. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  8. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  9. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  10. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  11. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  12. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice