France’s Hollande praises Turkish youth’s 'desire for democracy'

France’s Hollande praises Turkish youth’s 'desire for democracy'

Hürriyet - ISTANBUL
France’s Hollande praises Turkish youth’s desire for democracy

French President Francois Hollande addresses a Turkish-French business forum in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Hollande is in Turkey for a two-day state visit. AP Photo

Turkey’s young and dynamic population proved its desire for democracy in recent months, French President François Hollande said on Jan. 28 in a veiled reference to the Gezi Park protests, as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Turkey.

Reminding that Turkey has the youngest population in Europe and half of it is under 30, Hollande said: “Turkey’s population is very young and dynamic. They proved their dynamism and desire for democracy in recent months. These young people have expectations, fears, worries and questions. How would they have a better life than their families? The solution is education,” Hollande told the audience at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, underlining the concept of democratic maturity.

Touching on Turkey’s troubled EU ties, the French president said they were determined to support Ankara’s membership bid whatever the result might be. “Negotiations might be the guarantee for a state of law, freedoms, development and modernization. Thus France, without any preconditions, seeks the opening of chapters. “We want to open chapters to a discussion on the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.

On the Syrian crisis, Hollande said the only issue in the Geneva talks was the transitional government, the departure of President Bashar al-Assad and the election process with a new administration. He also praised Turkey’s humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

Earlier in the day Hollande met with the members of TÜSİAD [Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association] to discuss economic ties. President Abdullah Gül hosted a lunch with Hollande at Tarabya Palace and both attended the Turkish-French business forum. The French president also met with Rakel Dink, the widow of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in 2007.