French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 5, 2018. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 5, 2018. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool

France's Macron urges respect of rule of law in talks with Erdogan

Fri, Jan. 5, 2018
PARIS - 5 January 2018: French President Emmanuel Macron told his Turkish counterpart on Friday that democratic countries had to respect the rule of law in their fight against terrorism as he voiced concerns about the fate of students, teachers and journalists in Turkey.

Macron said after talks with Tayyip Erdogan at the Elysee presidential palace that they had disagreements about how they saw human rights.

"Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism... But at the same time our democracies must completely protect the rule of law," Macron said in a joint news conference.

Macron also said that recent developments in Turkey did not allow for any progress in Ankara's EU accession process. It would be hypocritical to pretend new chapters in the accession talks could be opened, he said.

A security crackdown in Turkey after a failed coup in July 2016 has drawn criticism from human rights campaigners as well as the European Union, which is overseeing Ankara's stalled bid to join the bloc.

Macron said that he had raised the cases of specific journalists and members of Galatasaray University with Erdogan, but declined to say which.

Erdogan defended the crackdown saying that some journalists encouraged terrorism with their writing, comparing them to gardeners nurturing plants.

"These gardeners are those people viewed as thinkers. They water ... from their columns on newspapers," Erdogan said. "And one day, you find, these people show up as a terrorist in front of you."

The Turkish leader was visibly irritated when a French journalist suggested that Turkish intelligence had sent arms to Syria.

Erdogan said the operation had been conducted by supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Turkish authorities for orchestrating the failed coup, and accused the French journalist of speaking like one of them.
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