Hollande Visits Turkey to Repair Relations

Photo: Flickr.com/pterjan

Photo: Flickr.com/pterjan

In an effort to repair French relations with Turkey, French President Francois Hollande traveled on Monday Jan. 27 to Ankara, the nation’s capital, for a two-day visit. The trip was fraught with political implication, both due to upcoming ministerial elections in Turkey and the country’s efforts to join the European Union (EU), of which France has been a major opponent for the past three years.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy maintained a fierce anti-Turkish diplomacy, pushing the anti-EU agenda and visiting Ankara only once during his presidency, for a total of five hours. France has also continued to struggle with immigration issues and prejudice toward the Turkish, continuing to spiral from the 1915 Armenian Genocide, during which France and Turkey cut military and diplomatic ties. Hollande’s official visit to Turkey will be the first made by a French president since 1993, when François Mitterand inaugurated Galatasary University in Isntanbul, a francophone institution that continues to symbolize the two nations’ limited cooperation.

Beyond healing historic wounds, Hollande’s visit is also important for global political reasons. The French president is the first major head of state to visit the Turkish capital since the tragedy of Taksim Square in Istanbul, in the spring of 2013.  The citizen protest led to state military involvement, leaving at least six demonstrators dead, an action that received heavy condemnation from the EU and peer nations.

The Turkish government has since been undergoing a number of political scandals, bringing charges of corruption against many members of state, including the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s own son, Bilal Erdoğan. Rumors also abound of an attempted political coup, orchestrated by associates of Fethullah Gulen—a Turkish instigator exiled to the United States—though the coup was denounced as fiction by the administration.

With two months to go before Turkey’s municipal elections, some analysts worry that Hollande’s visit has sent the wrong political message to the rest of the world, regarding France’s backing of the current regime. “The timing is truly poorly chosen. This can only been seen as support” remarked Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at the Sabanci University in Instanbul, providing commentary to the French newspaper Le Monde.

Aware of the delicate nature of his trip, Hollande refused to provide direct commentary regarding the French position on Turkey’s entrance into the EU. In a press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, Hollande merely noted that the issue of ascension will be determined in France by a referendum, disassociating his office from direct responsibility.

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  1. […] Hollande visits Turkey to repair relations. In an effort to repair French relations with Turkey, French President François Hollande traveled to Ankara on Monday, January 27 for a two-day visit. The trip to the capital was fraught with political implications, both due to upcoming ministerial elections in Turkey and the country’s efforts to join the European Union (EU), of which France has been a major opponent for the past three years. […]

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