Macron urges respect of rule of law in talks with Erdogan

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) walk out after a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 05 January 2018. Erdogan will attempt to reset relations with Europe at talks with Macron in Paris on January 5 that are likely to be overshadowed by human rights concerns. Erdogan is in Paris for a one-day visit for bilateral talks. [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL MAXPPP OUT]

French President Emmanuel Macron told Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan on Friday (5 January) that democratic countries must respect the rule of law in their fight against terrorism as he voiced concerns about the fate of students, teachers and journalists detained by Ankara.

Macron also said after his talks with the Turkish president at the Elysee presidential palace that they had disagreed about human rights.

France's Macron urges continued EU ties with Turkey

French President Emmanuel Macron said Turkey remained a vital partner of the European Union and ties should be maintained even if the country had strayed from the EU path, according to a newspaper interview published on Thursday (7 September).

“Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism… But at the same time our democracies must completely protect the rule of law,” Macron said in a joint news conference.

Macron said that recent developments in Turkey did not allow for progress in Ankara’s decades-long push to join the European Union.

Juncker says Erdogan's Turkey taking giant steps away from EU

Turkey is taking “giant steps” away from Europe and it is entirely the fault of the “Erdoğan system”, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday (29 August) in his strongest comments to date against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule.

Discussions should change focus, he said, mentioning the possibility of a “partnership” that would fall short of full membership.

Macron said it was time to end the hypocrisy of pretending that there was any prospect of an advance in Turkey’s membership talks with the EU.

“As far as the relationship with the European Union is concerned, it is clear that recent developments and choices do not allow any progression of the process in which we are engaged,” he said.

The talks were in effect halted following Mr Erdogan’s crackdown after the coup.

The EU has expressed concern over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected supporters of an abortive 2016 coup that has seen some 50,000 people arrested pending trial and 150,000, including teachers, journalists and judges, sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Macron said he had raised with Erdogan the cases of specific journalists and members of Galatasaray University who had been detained, but declined to give details.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for 15 years, defended the crackdown, saying that some journalists encouraged terrorism with their writing, comparing them to gardeners nurturing plants.

“These gardeners are those people viewed as thinkers. They water … from their newspaper columns,” Erdogan said. “And one day, you find, these people show up as a terrorist in front of you.”

Even before the coup and the subsequent crackdown, France has long been sceptical about admitting Turkey, a large, relatively poor and overwhelmingly Muslim nation with a population of around 80 million people, into the EU.

Erdogan was visibly irritated when a French journalist suggested that Turkish intelligence had sent arms to Syria.

Erdogan said the operation had been conducted by supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric blamed by Turkish authorities for orchestrating the failed coup, and accused the French journalist of speaking like one of them.

Several deals were signed during Erdogan’s visit, including a tentative accord for Turkish Airlines to buy 25 A350-900 aircraft.

Erdogan in Warsaw tells EU: Stop leading us by the nose

Polish President Andrzej Duda said after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday (17 October) that he backed Turkey’s aspirations for joining the European Union.

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