New French FM cool on Turkey’s EU membership

New French FM cool on Turkey’s EU membership

New French FM cool on Turkey’s EU membership

Laurent Fabius. AFP photo

French President François Hollande unveiled a government of mainly moderate Socialists and longtime allies on May 16, naming Laurent Fabius, who is known for his stance against Turkey’s EU accession bid, as foreign minister. Fabius mentioned previously that he was for a “privileged partnership” for the future relations between Turkey and the EU, rather than full membership.

Fabius, who is well known as a leading member of the “no” campaign during the 2005 referendum that saw France reject a European Constitution, insisted he was a committed European.

“I am profoundly European, but we need a different Europe, a Europe that is much more focused on jobs,” he said yesterday. Fabius told news channel BFMTV that his priority would be to deal with the European debt crisis and that he wanted to push for a “different Europe.”

Most experienced minister

At 65, he is the oldest and most experienced minister in Hollande’s government, having served as budget, industry and finance minister under past Socialist administrations, and as a modernizing prime minister from 1984 to 1986. Fabius shares Hollande’s vision of making French diplomacy more independent of the U.S., while holding to a firm line on Iran and Syria.

Hollande has named his election campaign chief 54-year-old Pierre Moscovici, as finance minister. Moscovici, who expected to be the foreign minister in the new administration, was known for his positive stance toward Turkey’s EU membership.

The new line-up in the Cabinet meets Hollande’s promise to appoint an equal number of men and women, a first for France, although most of the senior posts went to men. Socialist leader Martine Aubry, a key figure in the party’s old-guard left wing, said she would not join the Cabinet after being passed over for the premiership. Jean-Yves Le Drian, a 64-year-old local politician from Brittany, was named defense minister, while Manuel Valls, a free-market modernizer, was named interior minister.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.