France closes missions, cancel receptions in Turkey due to security reasons
ISTANBULThe French Embassy in Ankara and the French Consulate in Istanbul will be closed until further notice after the country’s diplomatic missions in Turkey cancelled their planned events to mark France’s National Day due to security concerns.
“For security reasons, July 14 receptions planned in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir are cancelled. We have informed the Turkish authorities of this decision and remain in close contact with them. The Embassy of France in Ankara, as well as the Consulate General in Istanbul will be closed from Wednesday July 13, 1 p.m., until further notice,” the French Embassy in Ankara said in a written statement issued on July 13. “We thank the French community in Turkey and all our guests for their understanding.”
The consulate in Istanbul had been due to hold a reception on the evening of July 13, while French missions in the capital Ankara and the Aegean coastal city of İzmir had planned events for the following day.
“Information points to a serious threat against plans for the celebration of the July 14 national holiday in Turkey. As a precaution, we have decided, in conjunction with the Turkish authorities, to cancel the celebrations,” a statement from the mission in Istanbul said.
Meanwhile, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, briefing about security measures taken at French missions in Turkey.
Turkey has recently been facing security threats, including from militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is said to have been behind the suicide attack on Istanbul Atatürk Airport last month which killed 45 people and wounded hundreds.
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on July 13, a diplomatic source from the French Embassy in Ankara recalled that Germany and Netherlands had also had to temporarily close their diplomatic missions in Turkey for security reasons.
“Given the security reasons, closing the embassy and cancelling the receptions were rational decisions,” the source said, adding that all consular activities, including issuing visas, will be suspended.
French and Turkish officials remain in close contact throughout this process, the source said, adding that standard security procedures will continue to be implemented to keep French missions and nationals safe.
No specific threat against the French
According to information Hürriyet gathered from security and intelligence sources, Turkey has not made a specific notification to the French Embassy, but necessary warnings have been dispatched to almost all embassies and diplomatic missions citing fresh intelligence of a potential attack on foreign missions in Turkey.
“Sufficient security measures have been taken for the embassy and its residences just like all other embassy premises. The Foreign Ministry wanted us to increase the security measures we have taken for the French Embassy and its missions on the occasion of the French National Day,” sources said.
“Necessary measures have been taken. There was no specific intelligence against French Embassy and nationals, so we are therefore surprised at their decision,” they added.