On the day that the new French President Nicolas Sarkozy moved into the Élysée Palace, I was watching a dance performance “Il Ballo Di Corte” by the French choreographer Christine Grimaldi at the Saint Irene (Aya İrini).
In the company of Middle Age music from the 16th and 17th centuries, the performance reflected a section of palace entertainments. It was in harmony with the Saint Irene’s grandiose and solemn atmosphere.
Costumes of the dancers were inspired by the paintings of Paolo Veronese, one of the painters from Venice. A feast table candlesticks on it, is placed at a corner of the stage.
In the minutes that Sarkozy waved to his departing predecessor, Jacques Chirac, after assuming power at the Élysée Palace and in the minutes that Chirac got into his car and left the Palace, we were watching French dancers at the Saint Irene.
Again, at the same hours, Orhan Pamuk, the winner of Nobel Prize in Literature, was attending the Cannes Film Festival, as a jury member.
When journalists asked Pamuk about Sarkozy’s presidency and Turkey’s the European Union (EU) bid, “Ten years from now, we will be an EU member. I wouldn’t know then if Sarkozy will be in the power or not,” Pamuk replied.
It is possible to read Pamuk’s statement in the following way: “Sarkozy’s presidency is just a detail. Turkey’s EU bid on the other hand is a long way to go.”
The rumors say Sarkozy aimed at ascending to the Élysée Palace since the days that he was elected as the Mayor of Neuilly at 27. He is free to object Turkey’s membership to the EU and name Turks as “people from Cappadocia” as his desire, but eventually he will mellow out.
As President of the Turkish-French Business Council in the body of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK), Uğur Yüce says it is profitable to leave some things to “time”.
The new French Prime Minister François Fillon, appointed by Sarkozy, announced his government yesterday. There are some pro-Turkey names on the list and that is hopeful.
First of all, charismatic name of the left is Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the person who supports Turkey’s EU bid, is the new foreign minister of France. Kouchner took office in the Mitterrand and Jospin governments formerly. I do not expect that he will change his views about Turkey in one day.
Christine Lagarde whom we all remember her from scuba diving with the Turkish State Minister Kürşat Tüzmen last summer in southern Turkey is the new Agriculture Minister. Ms. Lagarde was the foreign trade minister in the previous government.
Therefore, in Sarkozy’s team she is one of the people who know very well about the dimension of Turkish-French commercial affairs.
Lagarde will most certainly whisper to Sarkozy’s ear that the trade volume between the two countries is approaching to €10 billion and the number of French companies established in Turkey is over 500.
The influence of Jacques Attali
Beside the new government Fillon announced yesterday, I know another person who influences Sarkozy. The person I am talking about was the close adviser to the former President François Mitterrand. He is Jacques Attali, an author, a futurist and an economist. I had a chance to have an interview with him in 1998 first time in Paris. I saw him two years ago at the Blue Lagoon (Ölü Deniz) during the World Economic Forum.
As usual, our conversation this time was mostly about Turkey’s membership to the EU. The most important thing Attali says whenever we come together is this: “Europe cannot be a global power unless it includes Turkey.”
According to Attali, not only Turkey but also Ukraine and Russia will some day be part of Europe.
I still remember vividly about our interview two years ago, Attali had said Ukraine might become a member before Turkey, so Turkey should get along well with Ukraine.
Attali who cannot think of a future Europe without Turkey knows Sarkozy from his years as the Mayor of Neuilly. While Attali was in his office at the Élysée Palace years ago, his secretary one day told, “There is a young man here. His name is Sarkozy and he wants to meet you,” then she sent him in. That young man is the President of France today.
Since then, Attali has kept in touch with Sarkozy.
File of the “Man of Passion”
In a magazine article titled “Man of Passion” he penned down after Sarkozy was elected president, Attali tells about their friendship of long years and he advises the French president as follows:
“The new president should learn that the state is not just about the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He will learn to be the master of incidents by examining and studying his files, rather than having conversations with people.”
Reportedly, Attali has an “intellectual” kind of influence over Sarkozy. Without a doubt, Turkey is one of these files which Sarkozy has to study over. When Sarkozy opens the file, he will see that we are not “from Cappadocia”.
When he lends a sincere ear to Attali, Sarkozy will realize that he cannot shape the future of Europe without Turkey.