Turkey, France to turn new page after tense period in ties

Turkey, France to turn new page after tense period in ties

Prime Minister Erdoğan shaking hands with French President Hollande in Rio. The two leaders agreed to leave the past behind them. (Photo: AA)

June 21, 2012, Thursday/ 16:46:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkey's Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with French President François Hollande in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday where the two leaders underlined the necessity of opening a new page in bilateral relations following a difficult period in the relationship.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the United Nations Rio 20 summit. during the meeting, Erdoğan and Hollande agreed to open a new page in their bilateral relations, particularly economic relations, and contribute to Turkey's European Union membership bid. Erdoğan drew attention to the fact that the last time a French president made an official state visit to Turkey was 20 years ago and invited Hollande to visit the country. The president reacted positively to the invitation. Erdoğan and Hollande also exchanged views on regional and international topics.

They highlighted the importance of respecting the Syrian people’s will while ensuring a democratic transformation in Syria as soon as possible.

During the term of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Turkish-French relations stagnated because of the issues of the Armenian “genocide” denial bill and Turkey’s EU negotiations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated in an interview with CNN Türk that Prime Minister Erdoğan had given essential instructions following his meeting with Hollande, adding, “Sanctions drop off the agenda due to France’s new position.”

Turkey had imposed sanctions on France after the nation’s assembly endorsed a bill in December making it a crime to deny that World War I-era mass killings of Armenians constituted genocide.

Davutoğlu also said that he is going to visit Paris on July 5, saying, “After the meeting on July 5, hopefully the stagnation in our relationship will die out.” He said that Hollande proved to be a strong-willed person to put aside the past problems, adding that Sarkozy’s presidential term was incidental in terms of bilateral relations.

“Turkish-French relations have the power to take a turn for the better. Our primary attitude is clear. Turkey, its state and government will respect all nations when it is shown respect by them. When there is disrespect for Turkey, necessary steps will be taken for our state honor, dignity of our nation, and national interests,” he said, adding the meeting between the prime minister and Hollande has been a good start for both sides.

After meeting the French president, Prime Minister Erdoğan visited the Indonesian stand at the venue where the conference was held. The prime minister spoke with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, during which he called Indonesia Turkey’s “brother country.” After getting a chance to go to the Turkish booth, Erdoğan expressed his dissatisfaction with it and instructed the officials to make a stand that is more befitting of Turkey.

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