ANKARA: Erdogan Answers Calls of Turkish Immigrants in France

Zaman, Turkey
July 21 2004

Erdogan Answers Calls of Turkish Immigrants in France

France is the sharpest turn on Turkey’s way to the European Union
(EU). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Paris visit is
important to ensure that Turkey rounds this difficult turn safe and

Erdogan first held meetings with French Prime Minister Jean Pierre
Raffarin yesterday and then in the evening met with Turkish citizens
living in France. Thousand of citizens living in and around Paris
turned out for the meeting held in a sports arena. Speakers were
limited to four minutes. Association representatives expressed their
complaints and their wishes. Afterwards, Erdogan approached the
podium and addressed the emigrants.

“Do not worry,” Erdogan said in response to difficulties the
emigrants were experiencing trying to get back into Turkey. “Use the
double citizenship passport, do not stay away from the administration
and become involved in politics.”

Erdogan gave the mobile phone number of Binali Yildirim, the Minister
of Transport, and said that the Minister would deal with the problems
in person. Then Erdogan gave another number for the citizens to call
if Yildirm could not help them: The Prime Minister’s personal number.
Citizens reportedly busied the mobiles of Erdogan and Yildirm all
night. Erdogan personally responded to several calls.

The next morning Erdogan met with members of the business circles and
requested the support of MEFED, the French Association of Businessman
and Industrialists. At noon Erdogan visited French President Jacques
Chirac in the Elysee Palace. Minister of Transport Yildirim, Minister
of Finance Kemal Unakitan and Minister of State Mehmet Aydin also
attended the meeting. The meeting had two critical issues: The
European Union and Turkish Airlines (THY).

Erdogan explained the reforms of Turkey to Chirac and reminded the
French President that Turkey deserved a negotiation date. Chirac said
that the EU’s progress report would be a determining factor in their

THY also put the final touches on a deal for 36 planes from the
French-German Airbus partnership. THY had been negotiating with
Airbus for quite some time. The tender, in excess of US$1.5 billion,
had a small problem left to take care of. Erdogan evaluated the
meeting as positive.

After Chirac, Erdogan met with the leader of the Turkey France
Friendship Group and Foreign Affairs Commission in the parliament.
When asked about the so-called Armenian Genocide, Erdogan responded,
“This is primarily an issue for historians. The Armenian Diaspora
should give up using these so-called alleged claims.” Meanwhile a
group of Armenians marched along Erdogan’s route.

Erdogan is making special efforts to influence French public opinion
since the publicity will help influence Chirac’s decision. The Prime
Minister gave an exclusive interview to France2 Channel and Le Figaro