Jan 05 2018

Macron urges Erdoğan to respect rule of law, says EU progress not possible

(Updates)

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to Paris on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Turkish counterpart that democratic countries had to respect the rule of law in their fight against terrorism.

Macron said he also told Erdoğan that he is worried about the journalists jailed in Turkey, and asked the Turkish leader about specific cases from a list provided by watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Macron also said he is concerned about the fate of teachers and students of Galatasaray University, founded after an agreement signed between French and Turkish governments in 1992.

In a joint news conference with Erdoğan, Macron said:

Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism... But at the same time our democracies must completely protect the rule of law.

Macron also said that recent developments in Turkey did not allow any progress in its EU accession process. It would be hypocritical to pretend new chapters in the accession talks could be opened, he said, adding that EU could offer Turkey ‘partnership’ instead of membership.

In response, Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey is a ‘state of law’ and has an independent judiciary.

On his counterpart's criticism about journalists in Turkish prisons, Erdoğan said that some journalists helped nurture terrorists through their writing:

Terror doesn’t form by itself. Terror and terrorists have gardeners. These gardeners are those people viewed as thinkers. They water ... from their columns on newspapers. And one day, you find, these people show up as a terrorist in front of you.

Regarding Macron’s words about the EU accession process, Erdoğan said, “this is seriously exhausting us. Maybe this will force us to take a decision.” He did not elaborate what that decision might be.

A French reporter who asked him about claims that Ankara sent arms to Syria, according to AFP.

Erdogan told the journalist he was talking like a member of an outlawed group blamed for last year's failed coup in Turkey.

"Those are the words of FETO. You should learn not to speak with the words of FETO," Erdogan told the journalist after asking him to repeat the question.

The journalist could be heard insisting in French: "I am speaking as a journalist!"

"When you ask your questions, be careful on this point. And do not speak with the words of another," warned the Turkish leader.

"And I want you to know, you do not have someone before you who will easily swallow this," Erdogan added.

The issue had first erupted in January 2014 when prosecutors in southern Turkey uncovered trucks heading to Syria that they said were National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) vehicles stuffed with arms.

Ankara later charged those involved in the probe with membership of the Gulen movement.

"Those who carried out those operations were Gulenist prosecutors. Now they are in prison," said Erdogan icily.