France and Turkey

Political relations

History of French-Turkish relations: see the website of the French Embassy in Turkey (in French)

French-Turkish relations have been characterized in recent years by diverging views on Turkey’s accession to the EU and the Armenian genocide. Since2012, both countries have shown their willingness to enter a “new era” in their bilateral relations. The President of the Republic has called for the establishment of a stable, trusting relationship between the two countries, as France considers Turkey to be an important partner with which it wishes to maintain a strong, friendly and sustainable relationship.

And bilateral dialogue is indeed well developed:

  • convergence on major international events: our two countries have held regular meetings on international issues, such as the crises in the Middle East, the financial crisis, the G20 and climate issues;
  • counter-terrorism cooperation;
  • regular high-level contacts: on 27-28January2014, the President of the French Republic travelled to Turkey for a State visit, the first since 1992. On that occasion, a strategic cooperation framework was signed by the two Foreign Ministers. At the first meeting under this strategic framework, which took place in Paris on 10October2014, a 2014-2016 action plan was adopted as a roadmap for our bilateral relations.

Trade and economic relations

Our trade with Turkey increased in 2015. Bilateral trade totalled €13.8billion, rising 13% compared with 2014. France has moved up a place to become Turkey’s 6th-largest supplier, with exports of €7.1billion (€5.9billion in 2014), which is a record increase. It is Turkey’s 6th-largest customer, with imports of €6.7billion (€6.1billion and 5th place last year). Globally, Turkey is our 11th-largest market and our 3rd-largest customer outside the EU and Switzerland, after the United States and China (14th and 6th in 2014, respectively). It accounts for 1.6% of our exports, compared with 1.4% last year.

After falling steadily since 2012, exports rose significantly in 2015 (+18.4%), due to some major deliveries in the aeronautical sector (+85%) and excellent performances in the automobile industry (+62%). Imports, meanwhile, rose by 7.8%, re-establishing France’s trade surplus (€420million), after a slight deficit in 2014.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Turkey is one of France’s main partners in this area.

Institutional and technical cooperation (including civil service and land management) is particularly important. This cooperation aims to strengthen the rule of law and civil liberties and to increase administrative capacity by providing training in European affairs for senior officials, training for prefects and magistrates and support for modernizing the police forces.

Language and educational cooperation aims to promote the teaching of French. Indeed, although Francophonie is well-established in the country, only 1% of Turkish students speak French. The goal is to increase the number of students learning French by seizing the opportunity offered by the introduction of a compulsory second language in Turkish secondary schools.

The instruments of Francophonie are:

1/ A network of 10bilingual schools, which are essential for our cooperation, with a total of over 9,000 students: Galatasaray High School and University; six French private congregational schools; and the Tevfik Fikret Turkish private secular foundation. In 2012, the six private schools and the Tevfik Fikret foundation were admitted to the LabelFrancÉducation programme of excellence.

2/ MICEL (Educational and Linguistic Cooperation Mission), a financially independent institution created in 1994 to provide French teachers for the Galatasaray integrated system (lycée and university).

3/ Two French schools (accredited by the AEFE, the Agency for French Education Abroad): the Charles de Gaulle lycée in Ankara and the Pierre Loti lycée in Istanbul, with a total of over 1,800 students, 43% of whom are French.

In the area of research, which is booming in Turkish society, the priority is to build cooperation around the Bosphore Programme (Hubert Curien Partnership) with Tübitak, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. As regards social and human sciences and archaeology, the Georges Dumézil French Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFEA), founded in Istanbul in 1930, is an excellent facility.

In the area of academic cooperation, the goal is to increase France’s attractiveness and develop co-funded scholarship programmes for elite Turkish students, whether they are French-speakers or more focused on the English-speaking world. The number of Turkish students choosing to study in France is growing (around 2,000), but remains inadequate. France is the third most popular host country, after Germany and the United States. French higher education is mainly promoted through Campus France branches. France holds a special position in Turkey due to the success of Galatasaray University in Istanbul. Founded in 1992, the University is made up of five faculties (Law, Communication, Economic and Administrative Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Technology) with over 3,000 students spread out over five years of education.

Cultural and artistic cooperation is supported by the Institut Français in Turkey, a unique cultural institution with sites in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. There is also an Alliance Française branch in Adana.

Updated: 10/06/2016