France boycott call puts Turkey ‘even further’ from EU

A spot of French products is covered with a placard reading in Arabic 'French products are being boycotted for the sake of the Prophet Muhammad peace upon him', in a supermarket in Amman, Jordan, 26 October 2020. [Stringer/EPA/EFE]

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s support for a boycott of French goods is a further setback to Turkey’s already stalled bid to join the EU, the European Commission said Tuesday (27 October).

“Calls for boycott of products of any member state are contrary to the spirit of these obligations and will take Turkey even further away from the European Union,” a spokesman said.

Turkey applied to join the then European Economic Community in 1987 and began formal accession negotiations to the European Union in 2005, but the talks are seen as effectively frozen.

Protests erupted in several mainly-Muslim countries after President Emmanuel Macron defended a cartoonist’s right to caricature religious leaders in the wake of a French teacher’s murder.

History teacher Samuel Paty was killed in the street on 16 October after a social media campaign criticised him for showing students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson on free speech.

Turkey has condemned the murder, but Erdoğan has also resumed his long-standing and intense war of words with Macron, and has added his voice to calls for a boycott of French goods.

This is turn has been criticised by several European leaders, exacerbating the tensions surrounding Turkey’s bid to drill for gas in waters claimed by EU members Greece and Cyprus.

Now, the European Commission, which oversees the EU application process, has warned that an official boycott would breach the terms of Turkey’s relationship with the bloc.

“EU agreements with Turkey foresee free trade of goods,” the spokesman said.

“The bilateral obligations that Turkey has committed to under these agreements, as expressed in the Association Agreement, the Customs Union and the agricultural and coal and steel FTAs, should be fully respected.”

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