French envoy hopes for Turkey-France final at Euro 2016
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
HÜRRİYET photoAmid ongoing instability in various corners of the world and continued terrorist attacks threatening the lives of civilians in Turkey and Europe, one of the world’s leading football events will kick off in Paris on June 10, offering some respite from the continual somber news.
French Ambassador to Turkey Charles Fries sat down the Hürriyet Daily News on the eve of the Euro 2016 to explain the security measures to be taken during the tournament amid worries about a possible Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack while also expressing his hopes for a Turkey-France final come July 10.
Euro 2016 will kick off on June 10 in France. Along with France, the Turkish national team will be among the 24 contenders for the championship. What would be your message to Turkey and what is your best bet for the final?
Let me first express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Midyat. France utterly condemned these attacks. I assure Turkish authorities and the Turkish people of France’s solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
France is proud to host the European Football Championship, bringing together 24 national teams for 51 matches in the stadiums of 10 cities all around France in Paris, Saint-Denis, Lille, Lens, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice.
I am very glad that Turkey is one of the contenders and I hope that both France and Turkey will win all their games in order to meet in the final. You can imagine who I would support in such a case…
90,000 to be on duty during tournament
Turkish spectators will surely flock to France to support their national team. What would be your advice to Turkish visitors in their stay in France given the fact of the terrorist threat? In general terms, what security measures are being taken for the championship? Will there be any intensified cooperation or exchange of intelligence with Turkey specifically on the eve of Euro 2016?
The event will indeed put an intense media spotlight on France that will transcend the sporting aspect alone. Some 2.5 million spectators and several thousand journalists are expected in the stadiums. The safety of the teams, foreign delegations and many members of the public presents a major challenge.
The government and the organizers will therefore deploy the resources necessary for Euro 2016 to go ahead under tight security conditions: increased numbers of stewards and private security guards in the stadiums, strengthened security requirements for the fan zones, such as the systematic frisking of spectators and the extensive use of video-surveillance. Pre-filtering measures have also been prescribed to facilitate movement at entrances and prevent people from gathering on public highways. In total, almost 90,000 people will provide security at Euro 2016.
In that context, some members of the Turkish police have been invited to come to France to follow the Turkish team and cooperate with French police in order to facilitate the communication with Turkish fans.
1.5 million tourists expected
What is your reaction to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements on French police?
France attaches the highest attention to both guarantee the security of its citizens and preserve civil liberties.
What are the French expectations from Euro 2016 in regards to tourism? How many additional tourists is France expecting and how will that affect the economy?
In 2015, France was once again ranked the world’s leading tourist destination with a record of 84.5 million foreign visitors, and the goal is to receive 100 million visitors by 2020.
More than 1.5 million visitors are expected in France for Euro 2016. The tournament constitutes a real opportunity to generate tourist flows and attract new customers to the championship’s host destinations.
For its first games, the Turkish team will play in three beautiful cities: Paris, Nice and Lens. I am sure that many Turkish fans will extend their trips to visit the rest of my country.
Turkish President Erdoğan has expressed his intention to watch the first match of the Turkish national team. Is there a plan for a meeting with French President Hollande?
Both our presidents are real football fans. I cannot confirm that there is such a plan, but we would be honored to host President Erdoğan for one of the games of the Turkish national team.