Relations between Turkey and France haven't been consistently good for the last 40 years. Before that there had been a centuries-long tradition of a deep web of various ties between the Ottoman Empire and France because both France and the Ottoman Empire's traditional enemy was the Habsburg Empire; thus, an objective rapprochement had taken place between the two powers, culminating whenever the joint enemy was at the peak of its power. Against Charles V, French King François the first had to ask for help from Suleiman the Magnificent, which created a huge outcry among the Christian principalities of Europe; however, realpolitik was already more determinative than faith. This started a very long tradition of alliance between the Kingdom of France and the Sublime Porte. Even Robespierre would talk about the Ottoman Turks as the "... necessary enemy of our enemies. Useful and loyal ally of France..."
There were extremely strong political and economic relations between France and the ailing Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. More and more, the Porte was indebted to French creditors, which ultimately created a semi-colonial structure in the Ottoman Empire. The French would establish a whole system of collecting taxes that over time would encompass 70% of state revenues. Nevertheless, at the same time the Ottoman Empire, due to its centuries of experience, tried to play the European powers against each other. The military rapprochement between the Porte and Prussia by 1880 created a real panic in London and Paris. World War I would see the abrogation of the capitulations and severe enmity between France and the Ottomans. The war would end without a direct conflict between the French Armed Forces, except the navy battle at the Dardanelles, the last big battle won by the Ottoman Imperial Army. Mustafa Kemal used the liberation war that followed the demise of the Ottoman Empire dexterously to establish rapprochement between France and nascent new Turkey. By playing off the French and British governments, the liberation movement under the leadership of Kemal Pasha (as the French called him), successful cooperation was established. The personality of Mustafa Kemal, a brilliant French-speaking military commander, impregnated with the ideas of the Enlightenment, probably also influenced French policy.
After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, relations with France were never as intricate and dense as under the Ottoman Empire. In particular, trade relations decreased considerably because after 1929 Turkey opted for a very inward-looking protectionist economic policy. Still, political relations remained stable and somehow friendly.
The French Fifth Republic, under de Gaulle, had a favorable view of Turkey and the role it could play in Europe and regionally. The climax of these relations occurred during an extensive diplomatic visit to Turkey by de Gaulle in 1968. It would be wrong to say that Prime Minister Demirel was deeply influenced by de Gaulle, but Ismet Inönü, the historic figure of the Turkish Republic and chief of the opposition, had a very warm meeting with him. In any case, this is the last time that France gave reason to Turkey regarding the existence of two distinct communities in Cyprus and the need to establish a divide between them. De Gaulle's successor Pompidou did not really alter the nature of Turkish-French relations. The trouble began with VGE, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who vehemently opposed the Turkish intervention in Cyprus, which happened a few weeks after his election. Hatred also emerged during the same period with the assassinations of Turkish diplomats by ASALA, the Armenian terror organization. The Armenian massacres, long a taboo for Turkish society, resurfaced in the most violent way, creating a sense of being under siege of "alien powers" in Turkey.
The misunderstandings and antipathetic feelings continue. Turkey does not have an enviable image among the French people. Politically speaking, all attempts at rapprochement (under Mitterrand, Hollande, to some degree also under Chirac and Macron) were largely offset under Sarkozy.
The two countries' structure, main administrative traditions and national identities are very similar. Turkey badly needs a dependable ally in the EU, with the U.K. moving away. Perhaps it would be a good idea to try to openly talk about existing disputes and disagreements in a variety of fields to move forward. Efforts are being made to achieve this, but obviously, looking at the results, it is not working.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.