PARIS–Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Paris on Friday hoping to mend the widening rift between his country and the European Union. Instead he was met by angry protesters and a cold shoulder from French President Emanuel Macron who said that Erdogan’s policies since the 2016 coup prevented any possibility for Turkey to join the EU.
“I’d be lying if I said we could open new chapters,” Macron said during a joint press conference with Erdogan after a meeting at the Elysee Palace, referring to Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union. Macron, instead, proposed a “partnership.”
“For relations with the European Union, it is clear that recent developments and choices allow no progress in the process,” Macron said during the press briefing by the two leaders.
Meanwhile, angry protesters gathered outside of Elysee Palace holding placards with pictures of imprisoned journalists and human rights advocates. Erdogan’s oppressive policies toward journalists, teachers and activities were also brought up by Macron during their meeting.
The Armenian community of France urged Macron to be forceful with Erdogan ahead of his visit to Paris. In an announcement issued on Thursday, the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) said that Macron must hold Erdogan responsible for his current policies of suppression of freedom of expression and jailing of opposition members, which it pointed out were the precursors of the Armenian Genocide.
In a subsequent announcement, issued on Friday, the CCAF said that Macron should have gone further and pressed Erdogan on Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed the French his true colors—a dictator who expresses himself as if he were in his own palace and in defiance of European standards which he claims to adhere to,” the CCAF said in the post-Erdogan visit announcement.
On Saturday, thousands of Kurds gathered in front of the Elysee Palace to protest the French authorities inability to convict anyone for the murder of three Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013
The demonstrators repeatedly chanted “Erdogan, assassin,” reported Agence France Presse.
“Five years of silence, five years of denial of justice, five years of impunity,” read one giant banner held during the demonstration, which police said numbered some 4,700.