Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference