News / Europe

Declining French-Turkish Relations Could Have Regional Implications

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and Armenian President Serge Sarkisian applaud at the French Square, in Yerevan, Armenia, October 7, 2011.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and Armenian President Serge Sarkisian applaud at the French Square, in Yerevan, Armenia, October 7, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Relations between Turkey and France appear to have reached a new low following the French president's call on Ankara to recognize the mass killings of Armenians before and during World War I as genocide. Turkey has angrily dismissed the call as no more than cheap electioneering. The increasingly worsening bilateral relations could have wider regional implications.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday strongly rejected French President Nicolas Sarkozy's demand that Turkey face up to its past.

He said any state with a colonial history does not have the right to give Turkey a lesson on confronting its history. Davutoglu said it would be beneficial if France confronts its own past.

Ankara says the mass killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 were a result of civil war and unrest during World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. But Armenia, along with much of the international community, says it was a genocide.

Sarkozy, during a visit to Armenia last week, indicated that legislation might be introduced to criminalize deniers of the genocide.

The French president also pressed another point of tension with Ankara by repeating his opposition to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, saying Turkey is not a European country. That opposition has contributed to a rapid deterioration in bilateral relations.

International relations expert Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University said, "Top decision-makers like Nicolas Sarkozy was spitting on this country. This is not the way you deal with a future partner."

The Turkish government has dismissed the latest comments by Sarkozy as cheap electioneering ahead of next year's French presidential elections. But former Turkish diplomat and visiting Carnegie Europe scholar Sinan Ulgen said the two leaders' personalities also are adding to the diplomatic polarization.

"Both politicians are more or less of the same ilk. They [are] both known to be quite driven personalities, with a very active agenda and therefore when they come together, perhaps this clash [of] personalities has really harmed the relationship," said Ulgen.

Ulgen said the bilateral tensions are now manifesting themselves in countries of the Arab Spring, further deepening the divide between France and Turkey.

"We've recently seen a rivalry between Turkey and France after the onset of the Arab Spring, in particular when Turkey wanted to increase its influence, but also economic contacts within the region. France seems to be threatened by this Turkish position, given that in some of these countries, France has [a] privileged position that is now being challenged by Turkey," said Ulgen.

Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing the Arab League in Cairo, made what was widely seen as a thinly veiled attack on France.

He said the Arab countries must be on guard against forces that will try to divide them. He stressed that Turkey stands ready to help all those in need and is not motivated by the region's wealth - a reference to Libya's energy riches.

Paris and Ankara are jockeying for influence in Tripoli. Last month, the French and Turkish leaders made separate visits to the Libyan capital on the same day. But former Turkish diplomat Ulgen said such competition extends across the region and can be beneficial. He admitted, however, there also are risks.

"This increased competition will certainly help the economic development of the region. But, of course, on the political side, the fact that Turkey and France don't see eye-to-eye would complicate things, especially if the international community as a whole will be asked to give their support for these countries for transition towards better democracy," said Ulgen. "There, cooperation between Turkey and [the] EU in general, but Turkey and France in particular, would have been certainly helpful - but that's not likely to happen."

With the region at a critical and extremely volatile point in history, observers warn the bilateral tensions, and especially the increasingly bitter and personal rivalry between the leaders of France and Turkey, could well become another destabilizing factor.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid