Official speeches and statements - November 22, 2016
2. Turkey - Reply by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to a question in the Senate (Paris - November 17, 2016)
We were extremely saddened to learn of the crash in Kanpur on 20 November involving a train traveling from Indore to Patna which, according to the latest reports, left around 100 people dead.
France extends its condolences to the families of the victims of this tragedy and wishes the injured a speedy recovery.
It assures India of its solidarity in this terrible ordeal.
The situation in Turkey continues to cause serious concern. Concern to France, concern to the European Union - I saw this at Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting -, the number of arrests is increasing, freedom of expression is being impeded and democracy isn’t working properly.
But stopping dialogue isn’t the solution. Contact must be maintained and discussions pursued to make Turkey understand that it has nothing to gain from isolation, from cutting off all contact with Europe and its values. The dialogue must be frank, transparent and sincere—this, at any rate, is the unanimous position held by all the European Union foreign ministers. We also have to remember that Turkey is the target of terrorists from Daesh [so-called ISIL] and the PKK, and that it was the victim of an attempted coup d’état on 15 July 2016. So it has a right to defend itself, but [to do so] by adopting proportionate measures which respect the rule of law. Observing the rule of law and adhering to the values and principles to which it has freely subscribed are non-negotiable. This is how democracies respond to terrorism, so we aren’t going to break with Turkey.
I might add that it’s also a member of NATO. But we’re clear-sighted about the situation; we’ll continue to be clear about our principles and remind the Turkish authorities that our membership of the Council of Europe means something: it means respecting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and not restoring the death penalty. This week I spoke to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, who shares these concerns.
That, very clearly, is France’s position.