France politics: Quick View - Turkish president visits Paris
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- Economist Intelligence Unit
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- International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
- Political Geography
On January 5th Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, made a half-day state visit to France to meet Emmanuel Macron, the French president.
Discussions between the French and Turkish leaders focused on military and nuclear deals, security issues and EU accession negotiations. By inviting Mr Erdogan to Paris, Mr Macron took a political risk: whatever he did, there was little doubt that critics would say that he had not pressed Mr Erdogan enough on human rights issues.
In the trade sector, France and Turkey signed a contract for a feasibility study to be conducted regarding a long-range air defence project that would be set up jointly in Turkey by Turkish companies Aselsan and Roketsan, and a French-Italian consortium, Eurosam. In addition, a French nuclear company, Areva, is in discussions to build a nuclear-power plant in Sinop, a Turkish city on the Black Sea, jointly with Mitsubishi, a Japanese company. However, little progress seems to have been made on this project over the past few years.
Security is the main area for potential French-Turkish co-operation. Seen from the French perspective, such co-operation is crucial in the fight against terror groups (some of which pass through Turkey on their way to the EU from Syria and Iraq). In addition, France and Turkey share a common stance on Syria, where they both advocate for an orderly political transition and the withdrawal of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, from his post. Both topics were probably discussed by the French and Turkish presidents at their meeting.
Finally, Mr Macron attracted widespread-and mostly positive-media attention in France by dashing Turkey's hopes of acceding to the EU. In a press conference shortly after his meeting with Mr Erdogan, Mr Macron said that "it would be lying to say that we are going to open new [EU accession] chapters". He also said that he had discussed human rights issues on a case-by-case basis with the Turkish leaders, and that he had handed Mr Erdogan a list of journalists and activists that France would like to see released from Turkish jails.
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