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POLITICS > ‘Hollande Spring’ in Turkish-EU relations

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FM Davutoğlu hails a thaw in Turkey-EU ties as the bloc pledges to ease Turks’ visa procedures while Ankara ends sanctions against France

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with French President François Hollande after a meeting in Brazil. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with French President François Hollande after a meeting in Brazil. AA Photo

Turkey has ended sanctions against France thanks to newly elected French President François Hollande’s positive approach toward Turkey in a restoration of ties that had deteriorated under the rule of ex-French leader Nicholas Sarkozy.

The decision to end eight measures – mostly military – was given by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after his meeting with Hollande in Brazil late June 20, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.

“Yesterday’s meeting [between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hollande] is a new beginning,” Davutoğlu said in a televised interview yesterday. “Sanctions will drop from the agenda thanks to this new stance adopted by France.”

Turkey closed its airspace and territorial waters to the French army and reduced military ties late last December in reaction to French Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s approval of a law criminalizing the denial of the alleged Armenian genocide. Hollande, who had met Turkish President Abdullah Gül in Chicago during the NATO summit, held a meeting with Erdoğan in Rio de Janeiro on the sidelines of another international summit.

New chapter

The two leaders agreed to open “a new chapter” in relations, according to reports. Erdoğan said there had been no official state visit to Turkey by a French president in the last 20 years, and Hollande replied that his future trip to Turkey would be a great privilege.

Davutoğlu said he would make an official visit to Paris on July 5. “After these talks, this stagnation in bilateral ties will hopefully be over.” One of the main expectations from France is the removal of French blockage of five EU accession negotiation chapters. Diplomatic sources are optimistic that Paris will lift its blockage as the French Socialist Party is not against Turkish accession to the EU. The normalization of ties between Turkey and France will also help the two countries’ cooperation in the international scene, particularly with the crisis in Syria. Davutoğlu said he would participate in the Friends of the Syrian People group meeting to be held in Paris July 6.

Coming from Mexico, where Erdoğan held important meetings with the U.S. and Russian presidents, Davutoğlu said Moscow also shared the international community’s concerns regarding Syria. “There is no question that Russia admits that [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad committed grave mistakes. We share the same opinions, but we differ on the methodology,” he said. “Moscow is against foreign intervention, so are we.”

In response to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who said Turkey was a superpower and Israel needed to come to terms with Turkey, Davutoğlu said it was a clear indication of the rise of Turkey as the regional power.

June/22/2012

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