EU must take "very firm position" on Turkey - Minister
Turkey – Reply by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to an undebated oral question in the National Assembly
Paris, 30 June 2020
As you know, as the President stressed again recently during the Tunisian President’s visit to Paris, Turkey is playing a dangerous game.
The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also regularly talks about the issue in his discussions with the various parliamentary committees, and I’m repeating it here officially: the Government considers it essential for the European Union to uphold its own interests, without glossing over anything or being naive, because we have the means to do so.
And in this regard, you mention the case of one of our frigates, the Courbet, which, while acting on behalf of NATO, was the target of an extremely aggressive act by a Turkish frigate that was covering up a violation of the arms embargo [on Libya] decided on by the United Nations Security Council.
This behaviour is unworthy of an allied country, it’s unacceptable, and the President repeated this again alongside Angela Merkel yesterday, during his visit to Meseberg. The behaviour only confirms our need for clarification of Ankara’s position on several key issues: its relationship with its allies in NATO, its relationship with the European Union and its action in regional crises.
Indeed, as you emphasized, there was a NATO ministerial meeting last week; Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated how far this behaviour is sparking a crisis of solidarity within the Alliance. We’ve received support from very many partners, and so the NATO Secretary-General has decided to open an inquiry.
This also shows that Turkey’s military involvement in Libya fuels the conflict and threatens an escalation, and Turkish interference contravenes the commitments made in January – under the so-called Berlin process – to a political solution, which is the only solution in Libya.
It also further justifies the EU’s active role in contributing to a de-escalation, and it also makes the case for the proper operation, the proper entry into force of the European operation known as Irini, which we launched in April, to enforce the embargo by naval, air and satellite means. We want this operation to continue and step up its action.
And, as you also stressed, we’re very worried to see unilateral initiatives by Ankara in the eastern Mediterranean, in particular recent announcements concerning drilling off Crete, which support the observation that Turkey doesn’t wish to engage in dialogue, which is nevertheless more necessary than ever for good neighbourly relations.
So it makes it essential for us to maintain a very firm European position on Turkey’s compliance with international law and particularly the Law of the Sea, and to hold in-depth talks with our European partners on the prospects for the relationship between the European Union and Ankara. We think reducing tension in that area, which is very fragile, is an absolute imperative.
So France is also continuing to follow very closely the situation as regards fundamental freedoms and rights in Turkey, as well as pressures on civil society. And in this regard we’re especially concerned about political prisoners being kept in detention, despite an amnesty recently adopted by the Turkish authorities.
You can rest assured that whatever the difficulties, in an international context we know is extremely characterized by strong tensions and the undermining of multilateralism, the French Government and all its ministers, together with the President, intend to maintain a clear-sighted and demanding dialogue with Turkey on all these issues./.