When French presidents invoke “the national interest,” often as not it means they’ve cut a deal they’d really rather not explain. But when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came courting President Jacques Chirac in Paris last week, hoping the ever-reluctant French would back Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, the cash-and-carry policymaking was right out front.
As one senior Turkish official told NEWSWEEK, the intention was to “spread a package of economic benefits” before Chirac that “France could not reject.” Sure enough, Turkish Airlines announced it would purchase 36 Airbus planes worth more than $1.5 billion. Erdogan also hinted he might be in the market for France’s big-ticket nuclear technology. And just as surely, after years of implicit opposition and fence-straddling, Chirac suddenly decided that support for Turkey’s candidacy suits “the national interests” of France.
Of course Jacques would never get a cut from the deal . . .