Emerging Turkish-French partnership

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
ISTANBUL
Published

In recent months, French President Emmanuel Macron took important steps in the international arena. Mr. Macron was a vocal critic of the Trump administration's controversial Jerusalem move and France has opposed Donald Trump's irresponsible Iran policy to earn the international community's respect.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to France last week established that, under Mr. Macron, France could replace the United States as Turkey's strategic partner in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The French government's recent actions in the international arena encouraged Turks to strengthen their cooperation with Paris on defense and civil aviation. Partly out of appreciation for France's technological accomplishments and political stance, Turkey picked Airbus over the company's American rivals Boeing and struck a deal with EUROSAM, a French-Italian joint venture.

This was a result of spoiled and reckless policymakers in Washington ought to follow closely. After all, any purchase of military equipment tends to promote closer political cooperation between countries. And it would appear that Turkey will seek new partners and strategic alliences as they lose confidence in the United States.

In recent months, France had been making a thinly-veiled effort to fill the power vacuum left behind by the United States. Most recently, the French president played an important role to keep Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in power. Needless to say, Turkey and France could accomplish greater things in many parts of the world if they worked together.

To address the Syrian crisis, the French government should assume a more active role in the Astana process – with support from Turkey. At the same time, Mr. Macron could make a difference by answering Erdoğan's call on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union to broker talks between Israel and Palestine.

Needless to say, it is important for Macron to distance himself from populist rhetoric and instead focus on real progress. If Paris wants to play a more active role in the region, it must be determined to address structural problems such as the rise of Islamophobia.

Turkey and France have been taking similar steps with regard to a range of crises. Moving forward, the two governments must develop a working relationship on three areas:

First, certain mechanisms must be put in place in order to ensure that Turkey and France can work together to address shared concerns. Reacting quickly to emerging crises and coordinating their response could go a long way.

Secondly, The growing economic partnership must be complemented with stronger engagement at the political and social levels. It is important to institutionalize and diversify the good relations between the two leaders.

Finally, Turkey's relationship with France should contribute to Turkish-EU relations. The French government must pay special attention to this issue, provided that Turkey's EU membership bid will remain relevant to bilateral relations.

Developing a stronger relationship with France, in turn, is good news for Turkey.

Turkey's rapprochement with France and Germany, along with its joint efforts with Russia to address regional problems and strengthening commercial and political ties with Iran, make the country more prominent in the international arena. This trend must continue.

Turkish foreign policy must continue to focus on diversifying the country's allies and remain multi-dimensional. It is a well-known fact that Turkey's one-sided partnership with the United States hurt Turkish interests and has effectively ended due to Washington's hostile behavior. Turkish politicians no longer need to walk the extra mile in order to strengthen Ankara's relationship with the United States. Turkey's domestic stability and mutually beneficial relations with other regional powers has diminished Washington's importance for the country.

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