Official speeches and statements - July 21, 2016
1. European Union - Foreign Affairs Council - Turkey - Press conference by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development - excerpts (Brussels,2016-07-18)
We discussed the issue of Turkey, of course, and the Council adopted conclusions which recall that constitutional frameworks must be respected and which call for restraint. As you know, Turkey is a strategic partner for the EU and takes in the largest number of Syrian refugees - 2.5 million - fleeing the war in Syria. And, like France and Belgium, it’s facing terrorist attacks, particularly by Daesh [so-called ISIL], which hit Istanbul airport at the end of June. So in the fight against terrorism Turkey is clearly an ally, and our cooperation, particularly between our services and at the highest level, is a necessity. So we must strengthen that cooperation, and I have no doubt that it’s shared, and absolutely unequivocally.
In any case, during the week we’ll all have the opportunity together, as I said, to discuss in Washington how to step up our cooperation against Daesh still further.
So Turkey was the victim last week of an attempted military coup d’état. The population and the whole political class, regardless of their political hue, showed a maturity that inspires respect, and for France, as for every democracy, the obvious thing was to condemn an action that was contrary to every democratic principle.
But what is needed following the failure of the attempted military coup - and this is what I had the opportunity to say in the first hours - is for the response not to be less democracy in Turkey but more democracy. What is needed is for fundamental freedoms to be respected, for those who were responsible for this coup to be brought to justice under the rule of law. In a country based on the rule of law, the application of the law and respect of freedoms are the best bulwark against every threat. At any rate, that’s what Europe expects of a country which aspires to strengthen its relations with the EU.
As for the death penalty, our position is as clear as it can be. Not long ago I was in Oslo, at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty. It’s unanimous: as Europeans, we’ll do everything to prevent the death penalty being restored and ensure that, on the contrary, the number of countries which have abolished it increases. So it would be incredible for the death penalty to be brought back to Turkey. Let me also remind you that Turkey has made commitments: it’s a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and it’s a member of the Council of Europe. Our position is clear: we say we condemn the attempted coup d’état, and we’ve repeated that constitutional channels absolutely must be respected, but once again Turkey must emerge stronger and more democratic from what has happened (...)./.