France pushing for aggressive action against Turkey

France's representative to the European Union said on Sunday that Paris is considering a new push for sanctions against Turkey for what it says are aggressive actions taken against Europe. 

In an interview with Radio Europe 1 and the daily Les Echos, Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune told his hosts that Turkey was running out of chances to avoid the measure. 

"We gave Turkey a chance at the last European summit," Beaune said, referring to the last EU summit that was held in October. Since then, Ankara has chosen the path "of systematic provocation and aggressiveness" that should warrant a tougher response, according to the EU official.

Paris will pursue economic sanctions aimed at individual Turkish officials, Beaune said. France has already threatened to push for the cancellation of Turkey's customs union with the EU and has supported EU members Greece and Cyprus in seeking sanctions over Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean. 

These measures have not won enough support to pass, owing to opposition from other EU members including Germany and Italy.

France and Turkey are also locked in a bitter war of words over political Islam that has been amplified since the murder of Samuel Paty in France by an Islamic State (ISIS) militant. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has attacked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in personal terms and called for a boycott against Paris by Muslim nations for his defence of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons.

Beaune said views of Turkey have evolved and that it should be seen plainly as an aggressor 

"For 10 or 15 years we thought of Turkey as an Eastern-style sympathetic Western democracy that was taking steps towards modernisation,’’ Beaune said. 

"But this turned out to not be true. Culturally, geopolitically and other areas there is an aggressive Islamism. We should not be naive."

Beaune said that Europe as a whole was becoming more aware of this and "France is not alone" in this view. 

"Today no European country has any more illusions about what Mr Erdoğan and his regime are," said Beaune.