France ‘100 percent’ happy with Turkey on security (and everything else) – envoy

The strongest reaction to terrorism is to be faithful to the ideals of stronger democracy, stronger fraternity and liberty, French Envoy to Turkey Laurent Bili (R) says in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

France is more than pleased with Turkey’s cooperation on security against extremist threats, according to French Envoy to Ankara Laurent Bili…

Q: What is the current mood in France after the killings?

We are still in big grief; it was a big shock. At the same time, French citizens feel proud to be French; we could have fallen to the easy reaction of hatred but all these people walking the streets of Paris on Sunday [Jan. 11] sent a message of dignity, of unity and of refusal of any intolerance, racism and Islamophobia. I think it was a great message.

Also, we feel proud and comforted by the number of messages we received from the entire world. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was one of the leaders to get in touch with the president [François Hollande]. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu [offered] to present his condolences in Paris and proposed a trip before knowing about the Sunday march.

Q: How do you view Turkey’s reaction both at a state and a societal level?

Both levels were exemplary. Erdoğan was one of the first leaders to call on Hollande and they talked the day after. The declaration of [Religious Affairs Directorate] President Mehmet Görmez was also very important. In such situations, it was very important to send the message that these acts did not have anything to with Islam.

Q: President Erdoğan said xenophobia and the double standards of the West motivated the attacks. Do you share the analysis of the president?

The messages we get were very clear; there were “condemnations without buts.” I think it was very important for the president and the PM to say that the attacks had nothing to do with Islam.

There was a risk that reactions to the terrorists could be used for Islamophobia. But we did not fall into that trap…

Q: Turkey presents a case to the world in the sense that it is a majority Muslim country but also a candidate for the EU, which means it needs to endorse values like freedom of expression. How do you think Turkey is faring in this experience as far as freedom of expression is concerned for instance?

As you know, we know each other from 20 years ago. I have the tendency to think about what was the atmosphere on many issues 20 years ago and today. One of the successes of Turkey starting from 2000 was the ability to have, side by side, economic developments and a lively political life that improved freedoms; it is not an easy journey. We have seen the latest resolution of the European Parliament. I still feel optimistic that we now have a new impetus on the side of the EU accession process; it will help to keep this positive trend…

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