Turkish foreign ministry issues travel warning for citizens in France, amid terror threat to EURO 2016

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 09.06.2016 22:06
Updated 10.06.2016 16:53

On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Turkish citizens visiting France during Euro 2016 of possible terror threats.

A statement released by the ministry warns citizens to be aware of their surroundings in crowded places and public transportation.

The statement also advised citizens who will be following the tournament to pay attention to announcements delivered by the Foreign Ministry, Paris Embassy and other consular offices in France. The statement included emergency contact information for citizens to use in case of a security situation.

France has been in a state of emergency following terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. Even though soldiers have been patrolling the streets and several intelligence services have warned of a huge potential terror threat, the tournament will go on in France with heightened security.

Apart from Turkey, the U.K., Germany, and the U.S. have also warned citizens of possible terror threats in the country.

France has been hit by strikes and protests for an extended period, as people protest against the government for a controversial labor bill. Yet heavy clashes between the police and protestors have not seen any reaction from the European Union.

Despite the EU keeping silent over the French police's disproportionate response to the protestors, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have conveyed "concerns" regarding the situation.

Speaking at an opening ceremony in Istanbul's Esenler district on May 30, Erdoğan criticized international media outlets for remaining silent while street protests and violent police crackdowns are taking place over Paris and Brussels. "The media outlets that had uninterrupted live broadcasts from Istanbul are now blind, deaf and mute regarding this incident," said Erdoğan, and underscored his concern about the police brutality towards protestors in France.

Amid a fresh wave of protests over a bitterly disputed labor law, police behavior has attracted controversy, as many videos posted online show police and security forces apparently using disproportionate force on protesters. One video shows a police officer aggressively shoving a woman and throwing her to the ground.

Football fans who make it to France will see beefed-up security in stadiums and fan zones in the ten host cities. A 90,000-strong security force, including police, soldiers and private guards, has been assembled since the attacks in Paris in November that left 130 people dead. The Stade de France was targeted by suicide bombers during the November attacks while France hosted Germany in a friendly match.

The French government has created an emergency alert application for smartphones intended to send swift warnings to smartphone users in the event of a bombing, shooting or other disaster.

Trash mountains emerge on French streets

In addition to the huge terror threat, strikes across the country have made it difficult for tourists and locals to live normal life.

Waste treatment centers around Paris are on strike, blocking trash collection and prompting piles of refuse to collect on pavements.

Gas shortages also brought life to a standstill in the country. The shortages caused long lines of motorists in parts of France late May, as protesters angry over government labor reforms blockaded some of the country's oil refineries and fuel depots.

The action was the latest in three months of strikes and protests against a draft law that has set the socialist government against some of its traditional supporters and has sometimes descended into violence.

France is anticipating around 10 million visitors for the month-long football championship, but strikes continue to disrupt transportation and create challenges for both organizers and visitors.

The strikes by rail workers have this week seen services canceled on the French national train network, SNCF, including journeys from Geneva, where tournament organizer UEFA is based. Air France pilots are also planning to strike from Saturday to Tuesday, infuriating Jacques Lambert, president of the Euro 2016 organizing committee.

Bar and restaurant owners will not be allowed to set up TV screens outside their businesses during the European football championship. The move is aimed at improving security during the tournament, with French authorities expecting fewer people to gather in large groups if outdoor screens are banned.

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